Is state's gay marriage ban a 2014 gubernatorial issue? - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Is state's gay marriage ban a 2014 gubernatorial issue?

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Just days ago, a Lexington couple filed a federal lawsuit against the state of South Carolina in regard to the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage.

The suit seeks to have that amendment declared unconstitutional.

With the U.S. Supreme Court rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8, gay marriage supporters have sensed legal weaknesses in the laws and have begun to file suits around the country against states with similar constitutional amendments.

While the suit and gay marriage as a whole is not expected to be an issue in next year's gubernatorial debate, we're trying to figure out where Gov. Nikki Haley and state Sen. Vincent Sheheen stand on the issue.

Haley pledged in a statement to continue backing the law despite the lawsuit.

"Gov. Haley, like the majority of South Carolinians, supports traditional marriage as defined between one man and one woman, and in accordance with state law, will continue to uphold those values. The legislature has spoken on this issue, the people have spoken on this issue, and the governor remains resolute in her support of South Carolina's Constitution and state's rights and this lawsuit doesn't change that," said the statement.

Malissa Burnette, a Columbia attorney and a board member of South Carolina Equality, says it would be a waste for the governor to fight a federal law.

"I think it's a real waste of taxpayer money, and I believe that politics should be put aside and personal preference should be put aside," said Burnette. "The two defendants -- the governor and the attorney general should look at this from a legal standpoint and look at what the state of the law is right now."

As for Sheheen's case, a statement from his camp says the senator continues to personally believe that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Sheheen previously voted to allow the 2006 constitutional amendment to go to the voters, which passed with 78 percent of the vote.

Shell Suber, a political consultant says Haley's choice to fight to uphold this constitutional amendment should not hurt her re-election campaign.

"Not at all in South Carolina. Certainly not with the Republicans," said Suber. "It'll only serve to help her in South Carolina. It's really not helpful to Senator Sheheen, but it definitely helps her."

"In order for a Democrat to win in South Carolina, they're going to have to raise an enormous about of money and Sen. Sheheen is going to need that money from out of state -- a lot of it from major Democratic contributors from out of state and this position -- coming out now in 2013 and saying this again that he doesn't support gay marriage when that is such an important part of their agenda, nationally that's going to make it tough for him to go and ask for money for those campaigns," said Suber.

Suber says Sheheen's personal stance is going to have to be explained to potential donors.

"He's going to have to be on the phone with contributors from outside explaining why he has to do this here in South Carolina," said Suber.

But what about you? Do you support or oppose the state's constitutional amendment on gay marriage? Sound off in the comments below and vote in our poll.

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