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Same-sex marriage in South Carolina.

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A two-decade struggle for marriage
equality in one state of the Deep South.

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The term "LGBT" refers to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community.

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U.S. map with SC highlighted Timeline of activities related to marriage by same-sex couples:

  • 1996: The South Carolina House unanimously passed a bill to restrict marriage to the union of one woman and one man.

  • 2005: The Legislature introduced Amendment 1 to amend the state Constitution. It banned any form of recognition of same-sex relationships, including marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships, etc.

  • 2006-NOV: The voters passed Amendment 1 by a vote of 78% to 22%. Same-sex couples continue to be treated as "legal strangers" -- as mere roommates.

  • 2011-SEP: Public Policy Polling (PPP) sampled public opinion in South Carolina concening same-sex marriage. They found that 69% of voters opposed allowing same-sex couples to marry; 21% were in favor. The margin of error was ±4.0 percentage points. 1

  • 2013-JUL: A lawsuit was filed in a federal District Court of the nearby state, Virginia. It was later renamed Bostic v. Schaefer. Virginia, South Carolina and three other states are all under the jurisdiction of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

  • 2013-AUG: A lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Southern Division. It is called: "Bradacs v. Haley." Katherine Bradacs and Tracie Goodwin are a lesbian couple who had been legally married in the District of Columbia and now want to have their marriage recognized in South Carolina where they live. The case is later renamed "Bradacs v. Wilson."

  • 2014-FEB: The Virginia District Court issued its ruling in Bostic v. Schaefer. They found that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. This ruling was later appealed to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the lower court's ruling. "Bostic" was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • 2014-OCT-06: In a surprise move, the U.S. Supreme Court declined certiorari; i.e. they refused to accept the appeal. This made the decision by the 4th Circuit Court final and fixed. Same-sex couples were able to pickup their marriage licenses throughout Virginia.

    Once a ruling becomes settled law in a Circuit Court of Appeals, it normally becomes binding in all of five the states throughout that court's jurisdiction. In the case of the 4th Circuit Court, the states are: Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.
    • Maryland had previously attained marriage equality in late 2012.

    • West Virginia made marriage available to same-sex couples on OCT-09, three days after the Supreme Court's decision.

    • North Carolina followed suit on OCT-10.

    • South Carolina resisted marriage equality. The state government defended their same-sex marriage bans in violation of established procedures. Attorney General Alan Wilson (R) released a statement on OCT-06 saying that:

      "Our case (Bradacs v. Wilson) has not yet been decided. Until the courts rule on the matter, South Carolina will seek to uphold our state constitution." 2

      Some commentators have noted that the Attorney General is running for reelection in early November, and that this may have influenced his decision to deviate from normal practice and continue to oppose marriage equality in his state.

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  • 2014-OCT-16: A second lawsuit, "Condon v. Haley" was filed in federal District Court by Lambda Legal and South Carolina Equality -- two pro-marriage equality groups. Plaintiffs are Colleen Condon and Nichols Bleckley, who had applied for a marriage licence earlier in the month and been refused.

  • 2014-OCT-20: The plaintiffs in "Bradacs" filed a motion requesting tat the District Court deliver a summary judgment. That is, they asked U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs to not hold a hearing, but to render a decision based on the briefs already filed with the Court.

  • 2014-OCT-24: Attorney General Alan Wilson filed a brief in "Bradacs." He claimed that:
    • The case belongs in state court, not federal court because it deals with the marital status of a couple.

    • The case should not name the Attorney General and Governor as defendants because neither has "enforcement authority" on marriage matters.

More developments are expected in both active cases, "Bradacs" and "Condon", in early November after the mid-term elections. In the meantime, South Carolina remains the only state within the jurisdiction of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that does not allow same-sex couples to marry.

  • 2014-NOV-20: When a ruling of a U.S. District Court that affirmed marriage equality in South Carolina became effective at noon this day, same-sex couples were able to apply for marriage licenses throughout the state. It is the image of the number 36th U.S. state to attain marriage equality.

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Topics discussed in this section:

  1. Part 1: 1996 until 2014: Two decades of events affecting same-sex couples in South Carolina.

  2. Part 2: 2014-OCT: South Carolina struggles towards marriage equality.

  3. Part 3: 2014-OCT: Marriage equality comes to South Carolina for two couples. Two lawsuits proceed in federal District Court.

  4. Part 4: 2014-OCT/NOV: District Court rules South Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional.

  5. Part 5: 2014-OCT/NOV: Marriage equality comes to South Carolina for everyone.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "SC against gay marriage..." Public Policy Polling, 2011-SEP-09, at: http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/
  2. Allen Wallace, "U.S. Supreme Court decision does not immediately end South Carolina ban on gay marriage," Cola Daily. 2014-OCT-07, at: http://coladaily.com/


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    Home > Religious info. > Basic > Marriage > SSM > Menu > here

    Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality> SSM > Menu > here

    Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
    Originally posted: 2014-OCT-31
    Last updated 2014-NOV-22
    Author: Bruce A Robinson
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