Groups file federal lawsuit to force South Carolina to allow same-sex marriages

Colleen Condon, left, and Nichols Bleckley are plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit challenging South Carolina's gay marriage ban. Bruce Smith, AP

Colleen Condon, left, and her partner Nichols Bleckley appear at a news conference in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014, shortly after filing a federal lawsuit seeking the right to marry in South Carolina.Bruce Smith, AP

Colleen Condon, left, and her partner Nichols Bleckley appear at a news conference in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014, shortly after filing a federal lawsuit seeking the right to marry in South Carolina.

CHARLESTON, S.C. — South Carolina Equality and Lambda Legal on Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court arguing that South Carolina is obligated to allow same-sex couples to marry, consistent with a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Attorney General Alan Wilson have vowed to continue to apply the laws banning marriage for same-sex couples even after the U.S. Supreme Court let stand the ruling by the 4th Circuit striking down a similar ban in Virginia.

Because South Carolina is also within the jurisdiction of the 4th Circuit, the decision in the Virginia case is binding on South Carolina, says Lambda Legal.

“The Fourth Circuit’s decision means that same-sex couples in South Carolina should be shopping for a caterer, not a lawyer. Governor Haley and Attorney General Wilson cannot continue to ignore the rule of law. Fortunately, they have run out of cards to play – we’re urging the court to allow same-sex couples in South Carolina to marry without any further delay,” said Beth Littrell, Senior Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta.

“The state doesn’t have any credible arguments for a court in South Carolina to entertain,” said Littrell.

Article continues below

Lambda Legal represents Colleen Condon and Nichols Bleckley, a same-sex couple who applied and paid for a marriage license in Charleston County last week before Wilson asked the state Supreme Court to step in and put a halt to the issuances of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The court granted Wilson’s request, effectively stopping state court judges from issuing marriage licenses or weighing in on marriage equality pending an order from federal court.

Another federal case, Bradacs v. Haley, involves couples already legally married seeking recognition in South Carolina of their marriage, while the Condon suit seeks the issuance of a marriage license.

The case is Condon v. Haley; the complaint is here.

This Story Filed Under

Comments