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Attorneys ask SC justices to rule state's domestic violence law unconstitutional


CHARLESTON, South Carolina — The South Carolina Supreme Court is being asked to rule the state's Domestic Violence Law unconstitutional because it does not protect unwed same-sex couples.

The Post and Courier of Charleston reports ( ) that attorneys petitioned the court Wednesday after a Richland County judge earlier refused to give a restraining order to a woman who was hit by her former fiancée who is also a woman.

The woman seeking the order said she felt threatened.

But the court denied the request because the current law says domestic violence victims are defined as a "household member." The law defines that as a spouse, a former spouse, people who have a child in common or men and women who are living together or formerly did so.

The petition, filed by attorneys Bakari Sellers and Alexandra Benevento, noted that same-sex, unmarried couples don't have the same protections.

"This is simply an opportunity for all persons, no matter their race, no matter their creed or sexuality, to be treated the same under the law," Sellers said. "My hope is that South Carolina catches up with the rest of the Union."

State lawmakers recently passed a new domestic violence law that increases penalties for one-time abusers as well as frequent offenders.

Information from: The Post and Courier,

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