South Carolina prosecutors may have to resort to new methods to bypass judges tossing out same-sex domestic violence cases.
York County judges have dismissed six domestic violence cases involving same-sex couples in recent weeks. Under South Carolina law, a couple in such domestic disputes can only be defined as a "man and a woman" thanks to ancient laws.
The Herald reports the state's Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional last year; however, public defender Jeff Zuschke argued otherwise.
According to his statement during a hearing on Tuesday, the ruling may only apply to temporary protection orders, and it may not be applicable in criminal cases.
Lawmakers attempted to redefine the term marriage to exclude gay couples from First Amendment rights. In February, a House bill, the "Marriage and Constitution Restoration Act," aimed to define gay marriages as parody marriages.
“Marriage between a man and a woman arose out of the nature of things and marriage between a man and a woman is natural, neutral and noncontroversial, unlike parody forms of marriage.”
The controversial bill conflicts with the national legalization of same-sex marriages handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015. Fortune reports the lawmakers behind the bill don't want the state to recognize gay marriages.
The latest dismissal of domestic cases is another attempt to delegitimatize intimate same-sex relationships.
“We will continue to use our discretion to pursue charges through the grand jury when appropriate,” said 16th Circuit Assistant Solicitor Jenny Desch.
Although the couples are not legally married, marriage may not change the judges' response. This could continue to be an issue until the wording of the law is changed.
“There is no evidence that this was a man and woman,” Zuschke said in court. “We are stuck with the language of the law.”
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