Federal judge strikes down SC same-sex marriage ban

Federal judge strikes down SC same-sex marriage ban

A federal judge has struck down South Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage, ruling that the ban"unconstitutionally infringe[s]" on the rights of same-sex couples.

United States District Judge Richard Gergel issued a permanent injunction Wednesday preventing the state from enforcing its same-sex marriage ban. The ruling will go into effect on November 20 at noon, following a temporary ban to allow the State's attorney general to appeal.

Gergel's ruling cited the the fallout of the Supreme Court's decision to not listen to appeals from five-states seeking to uphold the ban. Initial appeals to uphold same-sex marriage bans were filed through the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which holds jurisdiction over Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

South Carolina was the only remaining state in the Fourth Circuit that continued to prohibit same-sex marriages following the Supreme Courts decision.

In Wednesday's ruling, Gergel said the Court reviewed the language in South Carolina's constitutional and statutory ban on same-sex marriage and found "no meaningful distinction between the existing South Carolina provisions and those of Virginia declared unconstitutional."

"The Court hereby declares that [the S.C. constitutional and statutory ban on same-sex marriage], to the extent they seek to prohibit the marriage of same sex couples who otherwise meet all other legal requirements for marriage in South Carolina, unconstitutionally infringe on the rights of plaintiffs under the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and are invalid as a matter of law," the ruling states.

On October 8, Colleen Condon and Nichols Bleckley were the first couple to have their same-sex marriage license accepted in Charleston County. The following day, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled county probate judges could not issue same-sex marriage licenses until a lawsuit challenging the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was settled.

The couple filed a motion for an injunction against the ban in October 22, asking Judge Gergel for an order to prevent anyone from enforcing the ban.

Attorney General Alan Wilson's office announced on Wednesday afternoon Wilson plans to file an appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court, citing a recent Sixth Circuit Court ruling's that upheld traditional marriage as proof that opposing rulings between federal circuits which would "much more likely" result in a U.S. Supreme Court review.

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