Showing posts with label South Carolina. Show all posts
Showing posts with label South Carolina. Show all posts

March 28, 2017

Two Pro Gay Marriage Decisions on SCarolina Reinforces Settled Law


[By the Fort Mill Times Editorial Board]
South Carolina might be a little more progressive than it appears after the last few election cycles.

Well, York County, anyway.

Two local court cases this month – one in criminal court and the other in family court – are the first in the state to set precedents regarding same-sex couples since the U.S. Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land by striking down laws or parts of laws that defined a legally married couple as one man and one woman. In the first case, a judge ruled same-sex couples married under state law, or “common law,” meaning they never obtained a marriage license, have rights to alimony and property following a dissolution. The next case involved a Fort Mill man who was convicted of domestic violence against his husband. 

Legal experts say the two rulings show courts are having to correct past discrimination against gay people.

In the latter case, the precedent should have a lasting effect on the criminal justice system and victims’ rights. It means some people convicted of violent crimes against a spouse or partner likely face stricter penalties. The difference between a domestic abuse conviction and one for a lower assault charge is the potential for more jail or probation time and subsequent punishment. In South Carolina, residents convicted of domestic violence are barred for years from owning guns or ammunition, and face stiffer penalties for subsequent offenses.

It is dismaying to think of the number of abusers who faced little or no punishment because they were part of a same-sex relationship.

The ruling in the dissolution of the common law marriage, one in which the couple had been together for decades, makes those cases what they should have been all along – unremarkable. Just as a judge is often called on to decide how to sort out the end of a relationship between straight couples considered married despite the lack of a license, as in division of property and assets and custodianship of minor children, now they will do the same for gay couples ending a common law marriage.

That is welcome progress, but not the end of the story. The state law defining household members for domestic violence does not recognize gay couples in a common law marriage. That means there are still too many people who may commit violence against a partner and not face the most serious charges, and a class of citizens without the legal protection they deserve.

That must change.

March 25, 2017

Linsey Graham Fights Back with Constituents at Loud Town Hall

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham defended his conservative values and voting record at a raucous town hall on Saturday, hitting back at what he described as the "double standard" among his more liberal-minded constituents. 
Speaking to an auditorium of largely Democratic voters in Columbia, the three-term Republican senator had to shout at times to be heard over the crowd. But he told voters that their boos and anger were not persuading him to change his positions. "All of you want [Donald] Trump to be denied what comes with being president — not all of you, but some of you — and you want to overturn the election," Graham shouted over jeers. 
Later, as constituents chanted "your last term," Graham fired back. 
"Good! Bring it on — we're going to have an election in 2020," he said, referring to when his seat is up. "Here's what I'm going to do: Between now and 2020, I'm not (gonna) worry about losing my job. I'm not worried about you not voting for me. You know what I am worried about? Our country." 
Since inauguration, many GOP lawmakers have faced vocal opposition from constituents during town hall meetings, and not everyone has handled the pressure well. 
Texas Rep. Joe Barton came under fire for telling constituents to "shut up" during a meeting earlier this month, while voters in California hung missing posters and held a mock vigil for Rep. Devin Nunes after he refused to agree to a meeting. 
Image: Sen. Lindsey Graham Hears From Constituents During Townhall In Columbia, South Carolina
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (R) talks with constituents after a town hall meeting March 25, 2017 in Columbia, South Carolina. Sean Rayford / Getty Images
Pacing back and forth across the stage for nearly two hours Saturday, Graham fielded questions about Russia, the federal budget, campaign finance reform and the Second Amendment. 
 A voter from Columbia lashed out at Graham for calling for a bipartisan effort to reform the Affordable Care Act after the senator previously refused to work with the Obama administration. Others booed his assertion that Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, was the "most qualified" for the position. 
"If you don't understand that elections matter, then you don't understand America," Graham said, later adding: "I don't believe that the Constitution was written so that you get everything you want and I get nothing. That's not the way the Constitution was written." 
Graham seemed to try to end the town hall on a positive note, promising to place his state's needs over his own ideology. 
 "Do you have any idea that ... I could keep this job 200 years, just keeping [Democrats] mad and nobody else, but you know what I've chosen? I've chosen to try apparently to make a lot of people mad," Graham said, adding that Tea Party voters would be equally as upset with his voting record. 
“I'm a proud conservative who realizes that this country needs to come together and, to the extent that I can help bring us together, I will," he said.

November 21, 2014

Latest on Gay Marriage and is Good


The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday cleared the way for South Carolina to become the 35th U.S. state where gay marriage is legal, denying a request to block same-same weddings from proceeding.

The order was another victory for gay marriage advocates after a federal judge in Montana on Wednesday struck down that state's ban on same-sex marriage.

"We're really thrilled," said Jeff Ayers, board chairman of South Carolina Equality. "This proves that all the way to the highest court, these were our rights from the beginning."

South Carolina's attorney general had asked the high court to temporarily block a lower court's ruling that overturned the state's ban.

After the Supreme Court's order, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, a Republican, said he hoped the high court, which has so far declined to take up cases that would lead to a definitive ruling on gay marriage, would ultimately uphold the ban.

Gay marriage advocates in Louisiana said on Thursday they had joined those asking the high court to rule on the issue.

There are already cases involving bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee pending at the court, which will likely decide by the end of the year whether to hear one or more of them.

The South Carolina ban was struck down last week by U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel, who ruled the state was bound by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision striking down a similar law in Virginia.

Gergel put his ruling on hold for a week to allow the state to appeal, with the 4th Circuit on Tuesday refusing to block it.

In Montana, where U.S. District Judge Brian Morris overturned that state's ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, dozens of couples married at county courthouses on Thursday.

A lesbian couple who successfully challenged the prohibition were the first to receive a marriage license at the Cascade County Courthouse in Great Falls, said Amy Cannata of the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana.

While gay marriage advocates have had the upper hand in the courts in the past year, a Cincinnati-based federal appeals court on Nov. 6 became the first to uphold gay marriage bans.

That decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals created a split within the courts, increasing the chances the Supreme Court will rule on the issue.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley in Washington; Additional reporting by Harriet McLeod in Charlotte, North Carolina and Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho; Writing by Jonathan Kaminsky; Editing by Frank McGurty, Bill Trott and Peter Cooney)

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