Following obstinate and obstructionist moves from South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Attorney General Alan Wilson in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to let stand a 4th Circuit ruling striking down Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban, a decision that effects South Carolina as the state falls within the 4th Circuit’s jurisdiction, Lambda Legal along with South Carolina Equality has filed suit against the Palmetto State arguing that South Carolina is “obligated to allow same-sex couples to marry.” From Lambda Legal:
"The Fourth Circuit's decision means that same-sex couples in South Carolina should be shopping for a caterer, not a lawyer. Governor Haley and Attorney General Wilson cannot continue to ignore the rule of law. Fortunately, they have run out of cards to play – we're urging the court to allow same-sex couples in South Carolina to marry without any further delay," said Beth Littrell, Senior Attorney in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta. "The state doesn't have any credible arguments for a court in South Carolina to entertain."
"The Governor and Attorney General are playing politics with our families and it's shameful," said South Carolina Equality lawyer Nekki Shutt, partner at Callison Tighe & Robinson. "Instead of celebrating and planning weddings, same-sex couples all over South Carolina are holding their collective breath – and they have been waiting long enough."
Lambda Legal represents Colleen Condon and Nichols Bleckley who applied and paid for a marriage license in Charleston County last week before the Attorney General asked the South Carolina State Supreme Court to step in and put a halt to the issuances of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The South Carolina Supreme Court effectively stopped state court judges from issuing marriage licenses or weighing in on marriage equality pending an order from federal court. Another federal case, Bradacs v. Haley, remains pending – it involves couples already legally married seeking recognition in South Carolina of their marriage, while the Condon suit seeks the issuance of a marriage license.
Meanwhile, The State reports that a separate pending case challenging South Carolina’s marriage ban, currently before a federal judge, is still awaiting a hearing:
Judge Michelle Childs said Tuesday she will decide later, most likely in November, whether she will hear oral arguments in the ongoing same sex marriage case that will determine whether bans on same sex marriage in existing South Carolina law and the state constitution will be overturned.
After the Supreme Court’s decision last week, Probate Judge Irvin Condon decided to accept nineteen same-sex couples requests for marriage licenses. AG Wilson asked the Supreme Court to halt the issuing of marriage licenses to gay couples, a request it granted. Wilson has said of his actions in opposing marriage equality in South Carolina, “My job is to represent the state’s interest in every venue that exists until there are no more venues to represent the state. I’m not opposed to anything I’m only for the rule of law.” No comment yet from Wilson on why the state is willfully ignoring the ruling from the 4th Circuit which the U.S. Supreme Court let stand.