Updated: 12:45 a.m. EDT
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina’s Supreme Court ordered probate judges across the state to stop taking application for marriage licenses Thursday, saying it wants to give a federal judge time to rule on a case taking on the state’s ban on same-sex unions.
The court’s order just before noon ended a whirlwind week of legal maneuvers and disappointed dozens of gay couples who went to probate court offices in Charleston County and Richland County after a U.S. Supreme Court decision Monday appeared to open the door for gay marriages in the state.
No licenses were issued.
A Charleston County couple went to the probate judge’s office Wednesday expecting to be turned away. But instead, Probate Judge Irvin Condon accepted their application and said he would issue the license after the legally required 24-hour waiting period unless a court stepped in. He backed down when the justices let him know they wanted a say in the matter.
State Attorney General Alan Wilson asked the Supreme Court to stop the licenses because a federal judge is hearing a case in which a couple who were married in Washington, D.C., want to be recognized in South Carolina and want the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex unions to be overturned.
Article continues belowThe justices agreed the federal case should be decided. Lawyers for the state and the couple have been asked to give a schedule for submitting briefs in that case next week.
Whether gay marriage is legal in South Carolina has been in flux since Monday, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal of a ruling allowing same-sex marriage in Virginia by a federal appeals court with jurisdiction over South Carolina.
Charleston County Councilwoman Colleen Condon and her partner, Nichols Bleckley, were the first couple to have their application accepted in Charleston County. Bleckley was in Charleston on Thursday waiting to see whether the judge would give her their license, while Condon was in Columbia monitoring the Supreme Court.
“I didn’t anticipate sitting here and she’s down in Charleston nervous and I can’t be with her. This is the craziest thing,” Condon said as she waited.
Richland County was the other county accepting applications from same-sex couples. Probate judges in the rest of South Carolina were waiting for the state Supreme Court to rule.
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