Attorneys claim new domestic violence law is unconstitutional

Published: Aug. 13, 2015 at 10:26 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 23, 2015 at 10:26 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS/AP) - South Carolina's recently-passed law against domestic violence is under fire because of claims it does not offer protections to same-sex couples who are not married.

Two Midlands attorneys are asking the state Supreme Court to declare the law unconstitutional.

One of the attorneys, former state representative Bakari Sellers, confirms to WIS the request was made Wednesday after a Richland County court refused to protect a woman who was allegedly abused by her ex-fiancee, who also is a woman.

The woman seeking the order said she felt threatened.

But the court denied the request because the law says domestic violence victims are defined as a "household member" who is 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 said same-sex, unmarried couples don't have the same protections.

State lawmakers recently passed a bill that increases penalties for domestic violence offenders cohabiting in a house with the victim. However, the law does not specifically define same-sex couples in the list of protected victims.

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