Status: Marriage Equality
Condon v. Haley was filed on October 15, 2014 on behalf of a lesbian couple seeking the right to marry in the state. Lambda Legal and South Carolina Equality filed the lawsuit arguing that South Carolina must extend marriage rights to same-sex couples after a ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The groups argue that the Fourth Circuit ruling, which granted marriage equality in Virginia, should have precedent over South Carolina, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Fourth Circuit.
On November 12, U.S. District Judge Richard Mark Gergel struck down South Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage in the Condon case. In his decision, Gergel wrote that the ban violates the equal protection and due process clauses under the Fourteenth Amendment. He wrote of the federal appeals court’s precedent, “While a party is certainly free to argue against precedent, even very recent precedent, the Fourth Circuit has exhaustively addressed the issues raised by Defendants and firmly and unambiguously recognized a fundamental right of same sex couples to marry and the power of the federal courts to address and vindicate that right.” The decision included a one-week stay, pending appeal. Shortly thereafter, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson appealed the ruling to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, saying that he has an obligation to defend state laws. On November 18, after the Fourth Circuit rejected the state officials' request for a stay in the case, Wilson appealed the decision to U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, who oversees cases in the Fourth Circuit, asking him for a stay on the ruling. On November 20, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Wilson's request for a stay, allowing for marriages to begin in the state.
The ACLU of South Carolina and private attorneys filed Haas v. South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles on behalf of three South Carolina couples. The couples were refused driver’s licenses that reflected their married last names. The case was filed on October 31, 2014.
Private attorneys filed McEldowney v. South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles on behalf of a lesbian seeking out-of-state recognition of her marriage. The woman was refused a name change on her driver’s license because of the state marriage ban. The case was filed on October 24, 2014.
In Bradacs v. Haley, a same-sex couple, represented by private counsel, is challenging South Carolina’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples in federal court. The plaintiffs argue that the state’s ban violates their rights to due process and equal protection under the U.S. Constitution, in addition to the Full Faith and Credit Clause.
Spicewood v. Thompson pertains to a couple who had been together for thirteen years but decided to separate. The result was that the plaintiff lost her health insurance and was evicted from her home. The plaintiff is seeking alimony and division of property she owned jointly with the defendant. The couple was not married, but the plaintiff seeks to deem the couple legally common law married. The suit was filed March 13, 2014.