An attorney in the US state of South Carolina is hoping that a woman’s lawsuit centred around loss of earnings due to no legal recognition of her partnership with her ex, will upend the state’s laws banning same-sex marriage.
The plaintiff, 60-year-old Cathy Swicegood lived with her partner for thirteen years during their relationship, but when it broke down, she lost her health care coverage and was evicted from the home she had lived in throughout.
Losing her partner’s company-provided health insurance coverage, and her ability to negotiate for shared assets has led to Swicegood working three jobs to support herself.
“There were just a number of doors closing in my face. My whole world just turned sideways,” she said.
The couple had considered themselves married, wore wedding rings, shared bank accounts and jointly owned property before they broke up.
A complaint was filed on Thursday in Greenville County Family Court, which aims to have the former couple’s partnership recognised as a common law marriage.
John Reckenbeil, representing Swicegood, said he thought the case would be thrown out as the state does not recognise same-sex couples as having common law marriages.
The next step would then be to file a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of South Carolina’s same-sex marriage ban.
The plaintiff and her attorney are hopeful that the lawsuit could bring equal protection to all residents of South Carolina, regardless of their sexual orientation or marital status.
They also hope that it will eventually lead to the strike-down of the state’s laws banning same-sex marriage.