Senate judicary chairman has strategy to pass violence protections for dating partners

05/03/2013 03:34 PM

Kentucky is one of three states with a gaping hole in its laws aimed at protecting citizens who are in abusive relationships, and one conservative freshman state senator wants to see that changed.

Republican Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, who was only just elected last fall has dropped his initial reservations about a bill sponsored by Democratic House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Tilley to allow a girlfriend or boyfriend to be able to receive domestic violence protection orders from the court against his or her significant other.

Currently, those protections extend only to someone in a marriage in Kentucky, South Dakota and South Carolina.

Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, has sponsored a bill in recent years to change that. And it made it through the Senate judiciary committee for the first time last session.

Westerfield said when he first read the bill he did not fully understand the measure at first, especially whether it would have more to do with protecting gay couples who are dating.

But Westerfield said that is not what the bill aims to do and that the main strategy to get the bill to pass through the full Senate is mainly through education.

“This is about honest to goodness opportunity to prevent danger, danger to a life and limb and there’s no one who is greater or lesser when we are talking about protecting people’s lives,” Westerfield said, “And it is not just homosexual couples, that’s also to heterosexual couples too.”

Westerfield says he will continue to work on getting the legislation through his chamber because he believes it is a protection that needs to be provided to Kentuckians.

“As a christian I don’t agree with some of the lifestyles that others choose, but also as a christian I am to love my neighbor as myself,” Westerfield said (at 2:00). “And there are people, men and women, you who are in college or not in college who are in legitimate danger who could benefit from this immediate protection…I think its a protection we can and should give.”

Westerfield also discusses in the interview how his faith plays a role in his position as judiciary chair when it comes to other issues like the death penalty.


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