News (USA)

Gay couple sues over S.C. ban on same-sex marriage

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A legally married gay couple living in South Carolina is suing to have the state’s ban on gay marriage overturned.

Highway Patrol Trooper Katherine Bradacs and Tracie Goodwin filed the lawsuit Thursday in federal court against Gov. Nikki Haley and state Attorney General Alan Wilson.

The lawsuit said a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision shows that states can’t outlaw same sex marriages because they do not approve of them morally. Bradacs and Goodwin were married in Washington, D.C., in April 2012, according to court papers.

“They are treated as legal strangers in their home state of South Carolina,” the couple’s lawyer wrote in court papers.

A spokesman for Haley said the governor’s office did not see the lawsuit until Monday and were reviewing it.

“Gov. Haley, like the majority of South Carolinians, supports traditional marriage as defined between one man and one woman, and in accordance with state law, will continue to uphold those values,” her spokesman Doug Mayer said.

South Carolina passed a law banning same-sex marriage in 1996, with voters passing a similar constitutional amendment in 2006 with 78 percent of the vote.

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The lawsuit points out Bradacs works in public safety and Goodwin is 80 percent disabled from the U.S. Air Force and gets veteran’s benefits. The suit said gay people who are first responders are denied the peace of mind of knowing if they die serving the public, their spouses will get the same financial support given to survivors with heterosexual spouses in South Carolina.

“This suit is really about equal treatment of all South Carolina citizens under the law. We should value people who want to live in a committed relationship, regardless of gender,” attorney John Nichols, who is representing the couple, told The State.

The lawsuit also asks a judge to temporarily suspend the gay marriage ban while the issue is in court. A hearing has not been scheduled.

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