Two bills are heading to the Governor’s desk that seek to close loopholes in Louisiana’s domestic violence laws. One measure by New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno adds dating partners to the laws. Interim executive director of the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Mariah Wineski, says current laws don’t offer the same protections to couples who do not have children or live together. She says these victims need protection under the law.

“In 2016, a full 60 percent of the intimate partner homicide victims were not married to their abusers when they were killed,” Wineski said.

Another measure by Marrero Representative Patrick Connick includes same-sex partners in domestic violence laws. Wineski says previously, Louisiana was one of only two states that excluded same-sex couples from these statutes. She says closing this loophole can save lives.

“If we want to see a reduction in our domestic violence homicide rate, we need to make sure that we are providing safety for all victims of domestic violence and accountability for all domestic abusers,” Wineski said.

Wineski says previously abusers of same-sex or dating partners could not be charged under domestic violence laws. She says that means they could only be charged with something like simple battery, which doesn’t carry the same penalty as a domestic violence offense. She says now all domestic abusers will face the same penalties.

“We recognize that domestic abuse battery typically escalates. It’s typically a more serious pattern of behavior. So we have worked in appropriate penalties into the law,” Wineski said.