COLUMBIA, S.C. — — Gov. Nikki Haley’s Democratic challenger says South Carolina should “pause” in defending against a legal challenge to the state’s gay marriage ban, while a Republican state Senate leader says he believes the end of the ban is inevitable.
Sen. Vincent Sheheen said in a written statement the state should wait for the nation’s highest court to rule.
“The U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately decide this issue,” said Sheheen, D-Camden, adding that his personal opposition to gay marriage has not changed. “When that decision is given, we must come together and abide by the law of the land.”
Sheheen, who is challenging Haley for a second time in November, issued his statement days after a federal appeals court ruled Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. The Carolinas are in the same judicial circuit as Virginia.
Within hours of Monday’s ruling, North Carolina’s attorney general said it would be “futile” for his office to continue defending that state’s ban.
However, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said his office will continue defending the ban. Haley quickly agreed.
On Wednesday, South Carolina Equality and the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina called on Wilson to drop his defense and asked people to sign a petition that says “marriage discrimination in South Carolina is indefensible.”
Haley’s spokesman, Doug Mayer, said Friday her position has not wavered.
South Carolina legislators passed a law banning same-sex marriage in 1996. A decade later, 78 percent of voters approved making the ban part of the state constitution. Both Haley, then a House member, and Sheheen voted in 2005 to put that question to voters and, in 2007, to ratify the amendment.
The Sheheen campaign had said Monday that he would monitor the court proceedings, following the 4th Circuit ruling. On Thursday, Sheheen said the state should “pause in the legal battles” and await a decision by the nation’s highest court.
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