Domestic partner violence is one of the ultimate betrayals -- having the person you love hurting you. And it's far too common.

Montana's partner or family assault law doesn't protect all victims, though. In fact, right now it doesn't protect any victims.

That's because a district court judge ruled in August 2012 that Montana's law designed to address partner violence is unconstitutional.

Judge Stormy Langston wrote in her decision that Montana’s partner/family member assault law defines a “partner” as a person in a heterosexual relationship. Because of the definition, an offender in a same-sex relationship would have to be charged with a crime that carries a lesser penalty.

“This classification does not consider those engaged in homosexual dating or ongoing intimate relationships, nor those who may have a child in common. Thus, leading to different treatment for different groups of persons, who are described by some suspect trait, namely, their sexual orientation,” Langston wrote. That violates the Montana Constitution’s equal protection provision and of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Senate Bill 306 would remedy this problem by revising the definition of a partner to remove the requirement that the partner be of the opposite sex. The bill has already been passed by the Senate and will be heard Friday at 8 a.m. in the House Judiciary Committee.

We fully support this bill as a way to protect all victims of domestic violence.

House Judiciary Committee 8 a.m., Room 137

  • SB 306 Revise partner family member assault laws

House Taxation Committee

  • SB 81 Provide tax credits for contributions to scholarship organizations

Senate State Administration Committee 3 p.m., Room 335

  • HB 30 Revise late registration laws

Hearings and floor sessions can be accessed online.