Well isn’t this interesting?
Last week the Obama administration declared that the federal government must recognize all same-sex couples’ marriages for tax purposes, regardless of the states in which they live. This will, in effect, force all states — even those without equality — to recognize the legally married same-sex couples living within their borders.
Jon Davidson, legal director at Lambda Legal, said the decision is “going to make things more complicated for the states.” Before DOMA was struck down married same-sex couples in states like Massachusetts had to file as unmarried at the federal level because “people were treated as married for state purposes but not federal ones,” he said. Now, those difficulties are reversed — with same-sex couples being treated as married by the federal government but not by many state governments.
And it looks like that fight for equality has come to South Carolina.
This week, two Lexington County women, S.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Katherine Bradacs and Tracie Goodwin, who were legally married in Washington, D.C., filed a federal lawsuit challenging South Carolina’s Defense of Marriage Law and a 2006 amendment to the state Constitution that banned same-sex marriages. The suit was filed in federal court because it raises federal questions.
“Although plaintiffs Bradacs and Goodwin were legally married in the District of Columbia on April 6, 2012 . . . they are treated as legal strangers in their home state of South Carolina,” their lawsuit says.
The lawsuit states that the U.S. Constitution guarantees Bradacs and Goodwin the same rights as married heterosexual couples and that South Carolina’s exclusion of same-sex couples “adversely impacts the plaintiffs and same-sex couples across South Carolina by excluding them from the many legal protections available to spouses.”
The lawsuit cites the Supreme Court decision and says that court “made it clear” that “neither tradition nor moral disapproval of same-sex relationships or marriage for lesbian and gay couples is a legitimate basis for unequal treatment of same-sex couples under the law;” excluding same-sex couples from marrying is “not a legitimate government interest.”
The lawsuit not only takes aim at South Carolina state law, and it’s Constitution, but it confronts South Carolina’s deeply religious and politically conservative roots, where many in the state oppose any kind of LGBT rights.
“This suit is really about equal treatment of all South Carolina citizens under the law,” said John Nichols, who represents Bradacs and Goodwin. “We should value people who want to live in a committed relationship, regardless of gender.”
The lawsuit also asks Judge Anderson, who will be hearing the case, to grant an injunction prohibiting South Carolina from enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act and the section of the state Constitution that bans same-sex marriages; sadly, our state Constitution also prohibits same-sex marriages that are legal in other states from being recognized in South Carolina.
No hearing has been set but a precedent certainly has and so ….
The march goes on ….