Three people have filed a lawsuit
challenging South Carolina's ban on gay marriage after each was
denied a drivers license.
The ACLU of South Carolina and SC
Equality filed the suit Friday in federal court on behalf of Judith
Haas, Brandon Velez and Damari Indart, each of whom married a partner
of the same sex in another state and decided to change his or her
In each case, the South Carolina
Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) said that it could not issue a
drivers license because it could not recognize the out-of-state
marriages of gay couples.
“SCDMV refused to recognize the
original marriage licenses presented by each of the Plaintiffs as
evidence of a name change because the SCDMV determined that the
Plaintiffs did not have the prerogative to change names as the person
each plaintiff married was of the same sex,” the complaint
Victoria Middleton, executive director
of the ACLU of South Carolina, said in a statement that the agency
had violated the plaintiffs' constitutional rights.
“The Department of Motor Vehicles
should not be in the business of deciding whether or not a marriage
is valid,” Middleton said. “It may demand proper documentation
of a name change in order to guard against fraud. It is
unconstitutional, however, to treat citizens differently who present
exactly the same documentation. There is no rational basis to assume
that a person married to someone of the same sex is more likely to
change his or her name fraudulently than someone married to a person
of a different sex.”
The lawsuit is the fourth to challenge
the state's ban.
South Carolina is the lone state
resisting a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling striking down
Virginia's ban as unconstitutional. The court's ruling took effect
earlier this month after the Supreme Court refused to hear appeals in
In each of the four cases, a federal
judge is being asked to force South Carolina to comply with the
ruling and allow gay couples to marry in the state.