Target: Tracie Goodwin and Katherine Bradacs
Goal: Thank these women for standing up for marriage equality and human rights in South Carolina.
In a brave and necessary move, South Carolina couple Tracie Goodwin and Katherine Bradacs recently filed suit with the US District Court in Columbia against the 2006 voter-enacted amendment explicitly banning gay marriage and its predecessor, the state’s 1996 Defense of Marriage Law. Bradacs, a US highway patrol trooper, and Goodwin, an “80 percent disabled” veteran of the US Air Force who receives Veterans Administration benefits, were legally married in April 2012 in Washington, DC, but their union is not recognized in their home state of South Carolina. Because of this, they cannot claim any of the benefits or privileges of legal marriage that their heterosexual counterparts enjoy. This means that if Bradacs were to get injured or killed in the service of the state, Goodwin would receive none of the benefits that normally would be accorded to family of public servants who give their lives on behalf of the community, because in the eyes of the South Carolina government, the two are legal strangers. They have filed suit hoping to force the state to comply with the Supreme Court’s recent decision to strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act.
South Carolina’s 1996 law passed the state House unanimously and slid through the Senate via voice vote to be signed by then-governor David Beasley, and its text reads: “A marriage between persons of the same sex is void ab initio (from the start) and against the public policy of this state.” Ten years later South Carolinan citizens voted in favor of an official amendment to the state Constitution enshrining the ban on same-sex marriage by a margin of 78 to 22 percent in the general election; 80 percent of participating voters approved the amendment where Goodwin and Bradacs now live in Lexington County. The suit the couple have filed clarifies that not only do the SC law and amendment deprive same-sex couples of legal and economic protections offered to heterosexual couples in the state, but they also explicitly discriminate against homosexual people, perpetuating destructive attitudes that have dominated South Carolinan society for too long. As one of the couple’s lawyers, John Nichols, has said, “This suit is really about equal treatment of all South Carolina citizens under the law. We should value people who want to live in a committed relationship, regardless of gender.”
By signing this petition, you are thanking Tracie Goodwin and Katherine Bradacs for being brave enough to stand up to discriminatory attitudes and challenge unconstitutional laws that prevent them and other same-sex couples from gaining equal protection under state law. Living in a state that refuses to acknowledge the validity of your marriage or relationship on the basis of sexual preference is a hardship that no one should have to bear.
Dear Tracie Goodwin and Katherine Bradacs,
I am very excited about the recent suit you have filed with the US District Court in Columbia challenging South Carolina’s 1996 law and 2006 amendment that ban same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor v United States makes the unconstitutionality of these measures transparent, and with any justice the named judge will strike them down quickly so that you and other same-sex married couples can enjoy the same legal, economic, and social privileges and responsibilities that heterosexual couples have been afforded exclusively for too long.
Thank you for having the courage to pursue this lawsuit in a state dominated by so much historical prejudice and discrimination. Thank you for your willingness to become an example and inspiration to so many couples denied their rights by state legislatures and the ignorance of their fellows. I hope that justice prevails, and that soon all local anti-gay legislation will be wiped from the books.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue via Flickr