SC, NC gay advocacy groups join to oppose same-sex marriages bans

jwilkinson@thestate.comApril 18, 2014 

Ryan Wilson, director of S.C. Equality, had protesters take off their wedding rings on Tax Day in opposition to the state's policies that do not recognize same-sex marriage.

South Carolina and North Carolina gay rights groups are joining forces in a lawsuit aimed at overturning same-sex marriage bans in much of the Southeast.

SC Equality and Equality NC on Friday filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in a suit that a Norfolk, Vir., couple brought challenging Virginia’s same sex marriage ban.

On Feb. 13, the U.S. District Court ruled in Bostic v. Schaefer that the commonwealth’s same sex marriage ban was unconstitutional.

The friendly brief filed by the the groups highlights two military couples in the Tarheel State, although the lawsuit was brought by civilians.

In one, Tracy Johnson of Raeford, N.C., is still awaiting death benefits after her N.C. National Guard wife, Staff Sgt. Donna Johnson, was killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan more than a year ago. Tracy Johnson is also a service member who served in Iraq for 15 months.

Ryan Wilson, executive director of SC Equality, said that the soldiers’ “headaches” from the state ban exemplifies the larger difficulties of same-sex couples who are recognized as spouses under federal law but not state statutes, particularly military service members who don’t have a choice in their postings.

“They should have the same protections as the state the came from,” he said in a conference call.

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