Unmarried Utahns who have been threatened or abused may soon be able to seek a restraining order against a current or former dating partner, thanks to a bill that was passed by the state Senate yesterday. House Bill 50 amends the state’s code to let Utahns who are 18 years of age or older seek protective orders against someone they are, or have been dating. Republican Senator Daniel Thatcher, of Tooele said the measure’s time had come.
“I know that this bill has been vetted over this entire year. Each year that this bill has come forward a few sticking points have held it up and have delayed its implementation. I think at this point the question that I have to ask myself is will this bill make the law better? And the answer to that is yes and that’s why I will be supporting it.”
For nearly a decade, various Utah lawmakers have sought to amend state statute to afford protections to people involved in a dating relationship. As it stands today, only spouses or people who live together can ask for a protective order.
But Republican Senator Scott Jenkins, of Plain City, said that the bill opened the door to too many questions.
"You make a lot of mistakes in your first, original encounter, and dates with this new partner. A lot of times you roughhouse. A lot of times you’re trying to determine limits on where your limit is and where her limit is, on when you’ve gone too far and when you haven’t gone too far. And when it doesn’t work out, you walk away. I feel uncomfortable with these kinds of laws, when really all you need to do is take personal responsibility for your actions. ”
Despite objections like these, the measure passed the Senate on a vote of 24-4. It will now be sent to Governor Gary Herbert for his signature.