Dating violence protection bill passes Utah House

SALT LAKE CITY – A bill aimed at providing protection for victims of dating violence passed the Utah House on Friday.

Under current state law, you can only get a protective order if you’re married, living with or have a child with the abuser. Victims of violence in a dating relationship don’t have much legal protection.

House Bill 50, sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Seelig, D-Salt Lake City, would create another category of protective orders specifically for dating relationships. Courts would evaluate whether a person has a strong reason to feel the threat of violence from a current or former partner.

The protective orders would only last four months, compared to indefinite cohabiting orders with children and property often involved.

But some opponents worry the law would give a foothold for legal status for same-sex relationships.

“If they’re going talk about a dating relationship, it tries to at least recognize that there is such a thing as public morality and that we don’t just look the other way and say that there are no standards,” said Lavar Christensen, R-Draper.

The Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice says that fourteen people were killed in dating violence situations between 2004 and 2011.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 61 to 11 on Friday, but it still has to go through the state Senate before it gets to Governor Herbert’s desk.

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