Marriage in South Carolina
I was sitting at work making sure that I had everything ready for the day. My biology classes were quizzing on their 20 vocabulary words, and my genetics classes were continuing in their notes and lecture. Everything was set, and I woke up in a fantastic mood. Erin and I have started praying together as a couple and doing gratitude lists at night, and it’s having a fantastic effect on my following day.
Yeah, I have a long day ahead of me, but there’s a lot of exciting things happening in this day today and in the next couple of days to come.
So I spent the next few minutes catching up on Facebook when I saw it: “This just in! We have a ruling! The lawyers are reviewing it right now, stay tuned!”
A ruling? On marriage? In SC??
I refreshed every few seconds after that. What ruling? What did the judge say? Which case was it???
There’s two big cases in South Carolina right now: The first case is between a couple married in another jurisdiction who wants their marriage recognized in South Carolina. The second is a couple who wants to be able to get legally married in South Carolina. The first case was the oldest, so when I saw that we have a ruling, I knew that it would be the first case. It wouldn’t affect me, but it would mean that couples could sue more because some couples in SC would be recognized while others weren’t. I knew at that point, once that case came through, we’d have weeks… at most.
I hit refresh again.
“A federal judge has ruled that the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on marriage is binding in South Carolina, paving the way for couples in South Carolina to begin getting married.”
That’s the expected verdict on the Charleston case. That’s the expected results for the newer of the two lawsuits! You mean to tell me that a federal judge just OVERTHREW the BAN ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IN SOUTH CAROLINA???
Yes, that’s what I mean to tell you.
Now, the ruling has been stayed until November 20th. A lot can happen in 8 days, but the judge said that the AG can’t file a motion to appeal… and he can’t do anything to stop couples from getting married. That sounds pretty tight to me. I’m pretty sure this is it. I’m pretty sure that Erin and I will be able to get married.
And, while we still need to sit down and talk about it… figure out finances… make sure this is the best decision for us at this time, I’m fairly certain we’ll get married in two weeks to two months.
A friend of mine posted on Facebook saying, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” It wasn’t directed at me, but at the population in general. The next few weeks are going to be intense. Couples are going to run to the courthouse to get married because it is new and exciting, not because they have any real idea about what it means to get married. Not all couples will be like this, but some definitely will.
Last weekend, Erin and I went to a seminar about the legal rights of LGBT couples in the state of South Carolina. What we learned was frightening.
- If you were married in another state, you have to essentially file five different tax returns between the two of you: one federal jointly that is submitted, but then two federal singles that you use to import to your state taxes to fill out your two state tax forms.
- Children born to a legally married couple will be allowed to put both parent’s names on the birth certificates, but unmarried LGBT couples won’t. This means that any child born to a couple who is not legally married is legally only one of the two parent’s. The other parent is technically a “legal stranger.”
- Health Insurance will depend completely on the insurance provider, but with marriage, you can put your spouse on your plan to be fully covered.
- Death benefits: estate tax, getting the house in the event of a death, life insurance policies… All of those things require extra paper work and lawyer fees unless a couple is married.
I’ve never been an advocate of “run to the altar” or “run to the finish line” relationships, but there’s a lot of legal perks for getting married, and we’re really, honestly, truly weighing the good and bad of getting married now versus getting married in a couple of years when we were planning on it.
As an LGBT individual and couple with marriage not even an option, you plan your life around it. Sure, it’d be great to live as a married couple and actually be legally married, but when you don’t have the option, you do what you have to. Now, as a might-as-well-be-married-non-married couple, Erin and I have some legitimate legal reasons for considering to get married now instead of getting married later when the not-so-important things are all better aligned.
What does it feel like to suddenly be in an equality state?
Weird. It feels weird. I’m thinking about the legality of things I’ve never had to worry about before. I’m thinking about how getting married may push me into a different tax bracket… and then how will that affect my taxes? How much will having Erin on my insurance be? Will it be cheaper to not have to the second insurance out of pocket? How do I change my name, legally, to our new hyphenated last name? What all do I have to do to make that happen?
Everything is real. It’s not something I’ve ever had to really think about before because marriage was never a real thing before. It was just a ceremony with special meaning for myself and my family and Erin and her family… But now… now it’s a think of law.
So yes, what does it feel like? It feels weird.