SC Attorney General asks state Supreme Court to halt gay marriage licenses

Charleston Co. accepts first applications for same-sex marriage licenses
SC marriage license application now reads Applicant #1, #2 instead of Bride and Groom.
SC marriage license application now reads Applicant #1, #2 instead of Bride and Groom.
Letter from Judge Condon states Charleston Co. Probate Court will begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
Letter from Judge Condon states Charleston Co. Probate Court will begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
Nichols Bleckley and Charleston Co. Councilwoman Colleen Condon after applying for their marriage license Wednesday morning.
Nichols Bleckley and Charleston Co. Councilwoman Colleen Condon after applying for their marriage license Wednesday morning.

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson is asking the state Supreme Court to put a stop to the issuing of same-sex marriage licenses.

Charleston County Probate Court had announced on Wednesday that it would begin accepting and issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

Judge Irvin Condon's announcement comes on the heels of Monday's announcement by the United States Supreme Court that they will not listen to appeals from five states seeking to uphold bans on same-sex marriage.

Wilson' office filed its petition Wednesday afternoon.

The state says that the legal issues around whether same-sex marriage is legal in South Carolina remains unsettled. State law requires all couples to wait 24 hours before the license is issued. Wilson's office is asking the courts to rule before that window closes Thursday morning.

For the first time, the Charleston County courthouse accepted marriage applications from same-sex couples on Wednesday.

If the Supreme Court does not do anything, then the 19 same-sex couples who applied for marriage licenses on Wednesday in Charleston County should be able to get their marriage licenses.

A former director of the Alliance for Full Acceptance says he expects a higher turn out on Thursday, and said he thinks people were surprised by Judge Condon's announcement.

Charleston County Probate Court will now accept and issue same-sex marriage licenses following "a mandatory 24-hour waiting period unless stayed by the South Carolina Supreme Court or another appropriate court," the judge said in a letter on Wednesday.

Judge Condon later said he expects the South Carolina Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue at some point during the 24-hour waiting period as far as issuing a stay or allowing the license to be issued.

On Wednesday morning, Charleston County Councilwoman Colleen Condon, 44, and her fiancé Nichols Bleckley, 43, applied for a marriage license at the courthouse. Charleston County officials say their application would be the first same-sex marriage license approved in the county once paperwork is finalized.

"This is not exactly what we were expecting, and we're glad to see," Colleen Condon said. "We had given Judge Condon the respect to let him know that we intended to come here and give him an opportunity to review the Bostic case; which we thought was clear to grant us this right. I'm glad that upon determining law, that he's determined that indeed licenses should be granted unless the Supreme Court tells him otherwise."

She said they aren't expecting any problems, adding, "it's a question of when, not if."

"If the Supreme Court chooses to stay it, we'll certainly be asking for the Supreme Court to immediately take action," the councilwoman said. "The Supreme Court needs to follow Bostic v. Schaefer, which is the fourth circuit decision that rules South Carolina as well."

The words "Bride" and "Groom" have been removed from the top of the South Carolina marriage license application, being replaced with "Applicant #1" and "Applicant #2".

"My reaction is one of a governor," said Gov. Nikki Haley."I took the oath of office to protect the constitution. The constitution says marriage is defined between a man and a woman. It's kind of a mess in the courts right now, so we're waiting to see what the courts come back with and then we'll proceed accordingly."

Same-sex marriage battle continues across state

Although same-sex marriage licenses will be issued in Charleston County, the legal fight over same-sex marriages being legally accepted in the state is not over.

According to South Carolina law, same-sex marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships are not recognized by the state.

Greenville County same-sex couples were denied marriage licenses Wednesday by Greenville County Probate Judge Debora Faulkner.

Monday's United States Supreme Court ruling to thwart appeals to uphold same-sex marriage bans in Utah, Indiana, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Virginia means marriage bans are considered unconstitutional in the 4th U.S. Circuit. That ruling paves the way for other states, including South Carolina, to get rid of similar bans once approved by each state.

Mark Powell, Communications Director for the office of state Attorney General Alan Wilson released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

"Because the Attorney General's Office has ongoing federal litigation, it would be inappropriate to comment on this matter at this time."

Wilson previously said South Carolina will uphold the state constitution on same-sex marriage.

Judge Kornahrens at Berkeley County Probate Court is in agreement with Wilson, releasing the following statement:

"The Berkeley County Probate Court is following the decision of our state's attorney general, and will seek to uphold the state constitution until a decision has been reached regarding the legality of our state constitution."

In Beaufort County, Probate Court Judge Kenneth Fulp released a statement about Beaufort County's policy:

"As of October 6 the SC law remains unchanged and under SC law (SC Code of laws Section 20-1-10), same sex marriage is against the public policy of the state. Probate Court is part of the unified SC judicial system and we will continue to follow the rules and regulations of issuing marriage licenses according to the SC Court Administration."

S.C. Senator Vincent Sheheen, who is the democratic challenger for South Carolina Governor, is in Charleston Wednesday, where he fielded questions regarding the landmark move in Charleston County. Sheheen said he believes marriage is between a man and woman, and at the end of the day we must follow the law and live by ruling of courts.

According to the Associated Press, South Carolina Equality and other groups will be at State House Wednesday demanding South Carolina to drop its battle over whether the state's ban on same-sex marriage is legal.

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