SC Supreme Court upholds gay marriage ban pending federal court ruling

Charleston Co. accepts first applications for same-sex marriage licenses
Thursday's release from Judge Condon.
Thursday's release from Judge Condon.

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The South Carolina Supreme Court has ruled that county probate judges cannot issue same-sex marriage licenses until a ruling is made on a suit filed in federal court challenging the state constitution's ban on same-sex marriage.

Thursday's noon announcement comes after the South Carolina Supreme Court extended a mandatory 24-hour waiting period for same-sex couples who applied for marriage licenses in Charleston County Wednesday.

"Respondent and all other probate judges are hereby directed not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples pending a decision by the Federal District Court in [Bradacs vs. Haley]," said the opinion.

The Bradacs vs. Haley trial is the case of a South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper and her wife who are challenging the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Charleston County Probate Judge Irvin Condon began accepting same-sex marriage licenses Wednesday morning, citing Monday's United States Supreme Court decision to not listen to appeals from five states seeking to uphold bans on same-sex marriage. The appeals were filed through a court that also holds jurisdiction over South Carolina

Charleston County Councilwoman Colleen Condon, 44, and her fiancé Nichols Bleckley, 43, applied for their marriage license in Charleston County Wednesday morning. The couple was expecting to find out the results of their application at 9:15 a.m., but the 24-hour waiting period has been extended to give the South Carolina Supreme Court more time to make their decision.

The South Carolina Supreme Court initially ordered Charleston County Probate Court to "refrain from releasing same-sex marriage licenses" until they are able to fully consider the action, according to a release from Judge Condon.

Judge Condon says his court can continue to accept applications for same-sex marriage licenses, but may not issue them until he receives a written order from the South Carolina Supreme Court.

State Attorney General Alan Wilson, who asked the South Carolina Supreme Court to step in and block the licenses, released the following statement Thursday afternoon:

“Today's action by the state Supreme Court upholds the rule of law in South Carolina. Based on the Court's decision, I will continue to fulfill my oath as chief legal officer to defend the laws and the Constitution of South Carolina until this issue is resolved by the federal courts.

In total, 19 same-sex couples filed for their marriage license in Charleston County Wednesday. Several others began applying for their marriage licenses when the office opened at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

The majority of county probate court judges in South Carolina said Wednesday they would adhere to state law, and would not accept marriage license applications from same-sex couples until the law says otherwise.

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