SC Attorney General responds to court ruling on same-sex couple protections

The South Carolina attorney general responded Wednesday to a State Supreme Court ruling that people in same-sex relationships should get the same legal protections against domestic violence as heterosexual couples.

The statement read:

Attorney General Alan Wilson statement on SC Supreme Court ruling:

"This office defended the constitutionality of South Carolina's domestic violence law.

We agree with the approach taken by Chief Justice Beatty and Justice Few, which seeks to reconcile our state's domestic violence laws with US Supreme Court precedent.

While we respect the Court, the approach taken by two of its members makes it impossible for us to protect victims of dating violence under our current domestic violence laws.

Instead of extending the protections of South Carolina's domestic violence laws to a larger group of couples, the effect of this decision will limit those protections to a much smaller group of people.

Under this current ruling, the only people we can now protect are spouses, former spouses and people who have a child in common.

This office will seek reconsideration of the ruling."

The state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a portion of the state's criminal domestic violence statute is unconstitutional. The court had been asked to weigh in after a woman tried to get a protective order against her former fiancée, also a woman, and was denied.

Current law defines "household members" as a spouse, former spouse, people with a child in common, or men and women who are or have lived together. It does not include unmarried same-sex couples.

The Ohio Supreme Court in 2016 adopted the use of gender-neutral references in family court cases. California and Massachusetts proactively changed the language in their laws.

Copyright 2017 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.