Court Decision's Impact on SC

Lawyer says SC should brace for similar cases

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By Monique Williams

WASHINGTON (AP) — As the Supreme Court says legally married same-sex couples should get the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples, and has cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California by holding that defenders of California's gay marriage ban did not have the right to appeal lower court rulings striking down the ban, we find out the impact all of this could have on South Carolina.

The court invalidated a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act Wednesday that has prevented married gay couples from receiving a range of tax, health and retirement benefits that are generally available to married people. The vote was 5-4.

The Supreme Court has also cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California by holding that defenders of California's gay marriage ban did not have the right to appeal lower court rulings striking down the ban.

The court's 5-4 vote Wednesday leaves in place the initial trial court declaration that the ban is unconstitutional. California officials probably will rely on that ruling to allow the resumption of same-sex unions in about a month's time.

Law professor with the University of South Carolina School of Law, Derek Black, says South Carolina would see itself in the same position within two to four years.

"There's a very good chance that within two to four years, the supreme court will hear the issue of can states deny same sex couples the right to get married, and when they hear that, the Windsor case, the one decided today, it will set a good precedent to demonstrate you can't discriminate against same sex couples in terms of marriage," said Black.

Black claims because the Supreme Court has said discrimination against same sex couples is prohibited for the federal government, there's no reason to say it's permitted for states, South Carolina included.

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