Ruling on Virginia's Same Sex ...

Ruling on Virginia's Same Sex Marriage Ban Undermines South Carolina's Ban

South Carolina has a voter-approved marriage ban but it remains to be seen for how much longer.

Back in 2006, voters in South Carolina approved a state constitutional amendment which prohibits same-sex marriage and civil unions by a margin of 78 percent to 22 percent.

Tracie Goodwin and Katie Bradacs are still awaiting their day in court to challenge the ban but they are feeling cautiously optimistic that their marriage will finally be recognized after a landmark ruling in Virginia, reported MSNBC.

Their optimism follows a 2-1 decision in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld a finding in a lower court that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The Virginia decision is not only pertinent because it is a southern state but because South Carolina falls under the 4th Circuit – along with Maryland, West Virginia and North Carolina. It means the court's ruling could overturn South Carolina's ban as well.

Goodwin said in the MSNBC story she was "ecstatic," when she found out about the ruling.

One of the key issues in many of the gay marriage cases has been whether states have the right to restrict marriage to heterosexuals. Virginia voted 57 percent to 43 percent in 2006 to amend their constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

Appellate Judge Henry F. Floyd wrote that notwithstanding the vote, Virginia's actions "impermissibly infringe on its citizens' fundamental right to marry."

Goodwin and Bradacs launched a challenge to South Carolina's gay marriage ban in August 2013. The case,Bradacs v. Haley, has been filed in the 4th Circuit but it stayed pending a decision in Virginia. Now attorneys for the couple, are expected to file for a hearing, Goodwin said.

MSNBC reported on how South Carolina is taking a different stance on the gay marriage ban to neighboring North Carolina, which has announced it will stop defending its constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. South Carolina intends to stand by the law which was passed in 1996 and reaffirmed by voters in an amendment in 2006.

"Currently, South Carolina's law remains intact, and, of course, our office will continue to defend it," J. Mark Powell, spokesman for the Attorney General Alan Wilson said.

Nikki Haley, South Carolina's Republican governor, also indicated in a statement her administration will continue to uphold the ban.

However, there are a number of challenges to the ban as well as the one launched by Bradacs and Goodwin.

Goodwin, an IT worker and Bradacs, 31, a highway state trooper – married in Washington D.C. in 2012, two years after same-sex marriages became legal there. They are raising three children.

South Carolina has made headlines in recent months for its stance on lesbian and gay issues. In April, Crystal Moore, a 20-year veteran of the Latta, SC, police force, was fired from her job for being a lesbian. She was later allowed to return to work, reported MSNBC.com.

The Masella Law Firm helps clients with all aspects of family law in South Carolina. Call us today at 803.748.9990.

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