A Kansas judge ordered county clerks to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses on Wednesday, making it the latest state to do so since the U.S. Supreme Court this week cleared the way for gays and lesbians to marry in a number of states.
The order, which goes against a ban on gay marriage that was written into Kansas' state constitution in 2005, came hours after a South Carolina court accepted an application for a same-sex marriage license despite its own state's ban.
"Citizens of Johnson County are asking for marriage licenses for same-sex couples and our district court clerks and judges are entitled to protection from laws that are unconstitutional," read the ruling from Judge Kevin Moriarty in Kansas.
South Carolina's ban against gay marriage, written into the state constitution, remains in place. But the U.S. Supreme Court's decision not to hear an appeal of a ruling allowing same-sex marriage by a federal appeals court with jurisdiction over South Carolina created an opening for marriages to commence in the Palmetto State.
FOR THE RECORD
10:25 a.m.: A previous version of this post stated that a marriage license had been issued in South Carolina. There is a 24-hour waiting period for the official issuance of a marriage license in South Carolina.
This story was originally published at 7:56 a.m.
Moriarty also cited the Supreme Court's decision not to review the appeal of recent lower court cases that overturned same-sex marriages, as well as the the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals' finding that Utah's ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional, according to court papers.
Calls to the Johnson County clerk's office in Kansas seeking comment were not returned.
In South Carolina, Charleston County Councilwoman Colleen Condon and Nichols Bleckley were the first couple to apply for a same-sex marriage license. Condon is a distant cousin of Judge Irvin C. Condon, who presides over the Charleston County Probate Court.
A stay could still be issued by the South Carolina Supreme Court, and the state's attorney general has pledged to defend the ban. About 5:30 p.m., the attorney general's office called on the state's Supreme Court to halt the issuance of gay marriage licenses, according to the Associated Press.
"We'll be keeping a close eye on it," said Armeeda Collins, clerk of the Charleston County Probate Court.
Virginia and Colorado have begun to issue same-sex marriage licenses since the Supreme Court's decision this week.
Other Southern states may soon follow South Carolina. The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is set to consider a decision upholding a gay marriage ban in Louisiana. A ruling from the 5th Circuit would also apply to Mississippi and Texas.
Times staff writer David G. Savage contributed to this report.