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SC Lawmaker introduces bill that ‘ignores’ same-sex marriage, adds gendered language to marriage licenses

Published Thursday, Apr. 6th, 2023

Many states have passed legislation to remove gendered language from their marriage laws during the past few years in order to recognize and protect the legality of same-sex marriages. Unfortunately, at least one lawmaker in South Carolina seems to be moving in the opposite direction.


A bill introduced earlier in the year by Senator Michael Gambrell would require that gendered language be added to the state’s marriage certificates. Specifically, Gambrell’s bill proposes that the current law (§ 20-1-330) be amended to read: 


“The marriage license certificate must include on it the following line for the signature of the contracting parties:


Bride (full name):_________________________   Groom (full name):________________________”



Currently, many marriage licenses in South Carolina include the terms ‘spouse’ or ‘applicant’ as gender neutral alternatives to ‘bride’ and ‘groom’ when referring to the individual contracting marriage. The proposed change would discriminate against the state’s LGBTQ+ community by removing this option.


(See this sample “License and Certificate of Marriage” from Greenville County Probate Court as an example.)


No mention of same-sex or same-gender couples is included in the bill, and no recommendations are offered for how to complete the form if one of the contracting parties is nonbinary, or if two brides or two grooms wish to marry. 


It’s almost as if Gambrell is ignoring the existence of these couples, and their right to equal marriage… 


The bill was introduced in January, and was referred to a subcommittee last week (where we hope it dies – and it probably will). 


Despite vocal opposition from conservatives in the state, marriage equality is still the law of the land in South Carolina. Same-sex and same-gender couples have the right to marry there, free of discrimination. This freedom from discrimination should extend to their marriage paperwork. 




Help protect marriage equality

as an inclusive wedding officiant! 


Get ordained online with American Marriage Ministries and learn how to marry couples in your community. AMM offers free ordination to people from all across the country, from every faith and background. 


Illustration of a young person holding an ordination certificate from American Marriage Ministries (AMM), with text that says "Want to Officiate Weddings?"



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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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