Victims of dating violence would be granted the right to file for protective orders in a bill passed by a House committee on Wednesday.

Current law makes protective orders applicable only to spouses and cohabitants who are victims of domestic violence.

Vigorous debate accompanied the hearing of HB247, sponsored by House Minority Whip David Litvack, D-West Valley, who characterized his legislation as addressing "a significant problem in our society."

"Dating violence is very similar to domestic violence," Litvack said. "Current protective orders are only obtainable through cohabitant definitions ... but do not provide the same protections" for dating relationships. Litvack's proposal extended these rights to victims age 16 and older.

Gayle Ruzicka, president of the pro-family group, Utah Eagle Forum, testified at the hearing that courts issue protective orders "frivolously" and that they should not extend to teenagers.