COLUMBIA, S.C. — SC Equality Executive Director Jeff Ayers announced that the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of LGBTQ couples there, thus opening up protections for both LGBTQ and straight community members with regard to issues of domestic violence.

“Now, victims of domestic violence, whether gay or straight, are protected under the state’s domestic violence law. It’s a victory for victims and it gives law enforcement and the courts clear guidance moving forward. [This is a] Huge victory for the LGBTQ community in South Carolina,” Ayers shared.

The case, Jane Doe v. State, involved a Richland County woman who applied for a protective order under the state’s domestic violence law after she was hit and choked by a former female fiancée.

The ruling declared two sections of the state’s landmark domestic violence law that made gender references unconstitutional as applied. The “as applied” approach avoids a situation where the law itself would be unconstitutional, rendering it useless in its entirety. And the court agreed that there was “no reasonable basis … to support a definition that results in disparate treatment of same-sex couples,” thus extending protections to any unmarried couples, regardless of their sexual orientation.

“This moves South Carolina forward on this important issue by expanding protections under the law for victims of domestic violence no matter who you love,” said Nekki Shutt, one of the attorneys representing SC Equality. “I applaud the state Supreme Court’s ruling. The state’s criminal domestic violence law now includes everyone, gay or straight, which is what a good law is supposed to do.”


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Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.