Same Sex Marriage in Charleston

marriageequalityAccording to Charleston’s Post & Courier, Charleston County Probate Court may be the first county in South Carolina to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple.

Colleen Condon and Nichols Bleckley went to the probate court on Wednesday to request a marriage license after the United States Supreme Court denied review of seven petitions regarding same-sex marriage on Monday, October 6th.

Many argue this denial  paves the way for the marriage equality movement and permits same-sex marriage in states where the petitions were denied.  Petitions recently denied by the United States Supreme Court include the Fourth Circuit’s decision in Bostic v. Schaefer.  The Fourth Circuit affirmed a lower court’s decision that Virginia’s same-sex marriage laws violated both the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Since South Carolina is in the Fourth Circuit, Condon and Bleckley decided to approach the Charleston County Probate Court and request a marriage license.  Charleston Probate Judge Irvin Condon announced that he would grant the couple’s marriage license after a wait of 24 hours, provided no court stopped him.

South Carolina’s State Attorney General, Alan Wilson, filed a petition in the Supreme Court of South Carolina last night (10/8/2014), requesting that the Court exercise original jurisdiction and issue a temporary injunction that would prevent Judge Condon from issuing such a license.  In his petition, Wilson argued that his responsibility as Attorney General of the State is to enforce the laws of the state.  S.C. Code of Laws Sections 20-1-10 and 20-1-15 plus S.C. Const. art XVII, Section 15 prohibit same-sex marriages.  Wilson reminded the court that litigation regarding the constitutionality of these provisions was currently pending in Bradacs v. Haley.  This along with Justice Kennedy’s stay in Otter v. Latta means that the law in this area is not yet settled, according to Wilson.  Wilson thus requested that the Supreme Court of South Carolina “…[i]ssue an injunction to the Respondent [Condon] directing him not to issue any marriage licenses until a final, operative order is issued in the Bradacs case….[and] …enjoin or issue an administrative order, directing all Probate Judges in this state not to issue such licenses until Bradacs is decided….”

The waiting has begun.

About Lisa Smith-Butler

Lisa is the Associate Dean for Information Services at the Charleston School of Law, Sol Blatt Jr. Law Library. She teaches Advanced Legal Research & Children & the Law.
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