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Amicus · Victory · Final Disposition on December 31, 2001

Ayer v. Sommi & Keller

GLAD was instrumental in obtaining a favorable ruling from the Massachusetts Appeals Court that domestic violence laws protect gay, lesbian, and bisexual people as well as heterosexuals.  The first same-sex domestic violence case to reach appellate courts in Massachusetts involved a man who appeared to be the victim of domestic violence but was subject to a mutual restraining order.  The Appeals Court ruled that mutual restraining orders could only be issued where the judge makes written findings that the orders are warranted against both parties.  This ruling ensures that judges discharge their duty to discover and protect the real victim of domestic abuse, and cannot simply fall back on prejudiced assumptions that because parties are of the same sex, they have the same power.

GLAD submitted an amicus brief in the case, analyzing the factors that make same-sex domestic violence different from opposite-sex domestic violence.  Joining on the brief as amici were The Network of Battered Lesbians and Bisexual Women; Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project; Fenway Violence Recovery Program; The Domestic Violence Council; Jane Doe, Inc; Massachusetts Law Reform Institute; and the Mass. Lesbian and Gay Bar Association.  Vickie Henry and Anthony Mirenda of the Boston law firm Foley Hoag represented the plaintiff, Mr. Ayer.