Two same-sex marriage cases inch forward in South Carolina

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

Updated: 6:30 p.m. EDT

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Two federal cases challenging South Carolina‘s same-sex marriage ban inched forward this week, with one request to prevent officials from enforcing the ban and a second asking a judge to move forward without a trial.

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. On Wednesday, the couple asked a federal court to prevent the state from enforcing the ban.

Colleen Condon and Nichols Bleckley, the first to apply for a same-sex marriage license in Charleston County earlier this month, asked U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel late Wednesday to issue a preliminary injunction preventing any state official from enforcing the state’s constitutional ban.

The couple sued last week seeking the right to be married. An injunction would mean the state couldn’t enforce its ban and it would effectively open the way for same-sex marriages.

In a second case in Columbia, Highway Patrol Trooper Katherine Bradacs and U.S. Air Force retiree Tracie Goodwin want South Carolina to recognize their marriage – they were wed in Washington, D.C.

In court documents filed this week, their attorneys ask U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs to rule in the couple’s favor without a trial. The attorneys say there are no longer any issues for the court to consider.

Attorney General Alan Wilson’s spokesman said the Republican was expected to file a motion late in that case late Thursday.

The attorneys for Bradacs and Goodwin noted that during the past 16 months “there have been more than 40 federal and state court decisions striking down bans on marriage equality” and that “a larger portion of the United States population lives in jurisdictions that recognize same-sex marriage than do not.”

They also note that South Carolina is the only state in Fourth U.S. Circuit “refusing to recognize the rights of persons of the same sex to marry.” That refers to the U.S. Supreme Court‘s Oct. 6 decision refusing to hear an appeal of a Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision allowing same-sex marriage in Virginia.

In Charleston, Condon and Bleckley’s want Gergel to order that they be issued a marriage license by the local probate judge and require the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed out of state.

In court documents, their attorneys asked Gergel “to enforce the clear and unequivocal law in the Fourth Circuit that government officials must allow same-sex couples the freedom to marry.”

Wilson has until Nov. 3 to respond to the injunction motion. But Gergel meets with attorneys in Charleston on Friday to discuss how the case will proceed.

Condon and Bleckley applied for their license after the U.S. Supreme Court move, when probate judges in two counties began accepting applications.

The state has a 24-hour waiting period for licenses and before one could be issued to the couple, the state Supreme Court put all same-sex licenses on hold pending a decision in the Bradacs and Goodwin case.

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