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South Carolina Amendment 1, the Marriage Act (2006)

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South Carolina Constitution
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South Carolina Amendment 1, also known as the Marriage Act, was on the November 7, 2006 election ballot in South Carolina as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved.[1]

Amendment 1 amended the South Carolina Constitution "so as to provide that in this State and its political subdivisions, a marriage between one man and one woman is the only lawful domestic union that shall be valid or recognized."


The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit became the second federal court to make a ruling about same-sex marriage on July 28, 2014. The court ruled that same-sex marriage bans such as Amendment 1 were unconstitutional.[2]

In their decision, the court said:[3]

The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual’s life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance.


As a decision made by a federal appeals court, this decision also had an impact on similar measures in North Carolina and Virginia.

United States Supreme Court

On October 6, 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear the case appealing the decision of the federal circuit court, thus allowing the ruling of the Fourth Circuit Court to stand and making same-sex marriage "presumptively legal" in South Carolina.[5]

Condon v. Haley

On November 12, 2014, Judge Richard Gergel of the U.S. District Court of South Carolina struck down the ban on same-sex marriage.[6] The state appealed to the Fourth Circuit, although that court already struck down similar bans in other states.[7] The Fourth Circuit refused to stay Judge Gergel's ruling.[8] Following, Attorney General Alan Wilson (R) appealed to the US Supreme Court, which, in a 7 to 2 ruling, decided to let the lower court's ruling stand.[9]

Election results

South Carolina Amendment 1 (2006)
OverturnedotOverturned Case:Condon v. Haley 
Yes 829,360 78%

Ballot text


The question asked on the ballot was:

"Must Article XVII of the Constitution of this State be amended by adding Section 15 so as to provide that in this State and its political subdivisions, a marriage between one man and one woman is the only lawful domestic union that shall be valid or recognized; that this State and its political subdivisions shall not create, recognize, or give effect to a legal status, right, or claim created by another jurisdiction respecting any other domestic union, however denominated; that this amendment shall not impair any right or benefit extended by the State or its political subdivisions other than a right or benefit arising from a domestic union that is not valid or recognized in this State; and that this amendment shall not prohibit or limit the ability of parties other than the State or its political subdivisions from entering into contracts or other legal instruments?"


As provided for in South Carolina law, election officials include a neutral explanation on the ballot of each ballot question. The explanation provided alongside the question for proposed Amendment 1 in 2006 said:

"This amendment provides that the institution of marriage in South Carolina consists only of the union between one man and one woman. No other domestic union is valid and legal. The State and its political subdivisions are prohibited from creating or recognizing any right or claim respecting any other domestic union, whatever it may be called, or from giving effect to any such right or benefit recognized in any other state or jurisdiction.
However, this amendment also makes clear it does not impair rights or benefits extended by this State, or its political subdivisions not arising from other domestic unions, nor does the amendment prohibit private parties from entering into contracts or other legal instruments."

Campaign finance

Donors to the campaign for the measure:[10]

  • Palmetto Family Council: $107,067
  • $9,055
  • Total: $116,122

Donors to the campaign against the measure:

  • South Carolina Equality Committee: $301,861
  • Every Family Matters: $36,500
  • South Carolina Equality Coalition Commission: $18,025
  • South Carolina Log Cabin Republicans: $14,041
  • Total: $370,427
  • Overall Total: $486,549

Related measures

Voters in 30 states have approved legislatively-referred constitutional amendments or initiated constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriages at the ballot box. The first constitutional prohibition was in 1998, and the latest one occurred in May 2012. Most of these amendments define marriage along the lines of a "union of one male and one female."


The following constitutional bans were approved by voters, but later overturned by courts:


Cases overturning the following bans have been appealed to higher courts and are currently stayed:

Note: Same-sex marriage is legal in St. Louis County and the state recognizes same-sex marriages.


The following constitutional bans were approved by voters and have been upheld or not overturned by courts:


The following constitutional bans were defeated by voters:

Note: Arizonans defeated a measure in 2006, but approved one in 2008, which has been overturned.

See also

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