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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
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South Carolina Faces New Same-Sex Marriage Suit

(CN) - South Carolina officials refuse to allow a woman to use her wife's family name on her driver's license, according to the latest lawsuit to be filed over the state's stance on same-sex marriage.

Plaintiff Julie McEldowney, a resident of Cayce, S.C., says she legally changed her name with the Social Security Administration after marrying her wife, Pamela Ann McEldowney, in the District of Columbia on January 30, 2014.

She says she then went to South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, armed with her marriage certificate and, since she hadn't yet received her social security card, a letter from the Social Security Administration noting the change of her name.

But the DMV has twice refused to issue her a license reflecting her new name on the grounds that to do so would violate South Carolina law because the name change was the result of her same-sex marriage to her wife.

The lawsuit names Gov. Nikki Haley and DMV director Kevin Schwedo as defendants.

The complaint says that as governor Haley took an oath to "Preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

"Despite that oath, Defendant Nikki Haley continues to direct South Carolina state agencies and departments, including SCDMV, to refuse to do any act that would embrace recognition of a lawful, out-of-state, same-sex marriage," the complaint says. "This continues to be so even now that the Supreme Court of the United States has declined to grant a writ of certiorari to review the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Bostic v. Schaefer."

In Bostic, the 4th Circuit decided that Virginia laws that prohibited same-sex marriages were unconstitutional because they impermissibly infringed upon the fundamental right to marry.

Neither of the officials responded to a request for comment.

Earlier this month, the South Carolina Supreme Court ordered probate judges throughout state not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed by another couple married in Washington, D.C.

That couple is also seeking to force the state to recognize their marriage.

Also pending is a lawsuit filed by a Charleston couple that applied for a marriage license, was given one, and then saw it voided by the state Supreme Court's action.

Attorneys for the litigants in that case are expected to meet with a judge on Friday to discuss how the case will proceed.

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