Kansas can issue gay marriage licenses; South Carolina ban struck down
Kansas can now issue same-sex marriage licenses after the Supreme Court on Wednesday afternoon ended a stay that temporarily prevented the state from doing so.
Earlier Wednesday, a federal judge in South Carolina struck down that state’s ban on same-sex marriage in a ruling that joins a string of decisions that have legalized gay and lesbian nuptials in many states.
In Kansas, U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree issued an injunction Nov. 4 barring the state from enforcing its ban on same-sex marriage. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a stay Monday that temporarily prevented Crabtree’s order from taking effect Tuesday as scheduled.
On Wednesday, the full Supreme Court decided not to grant the stay, dissolving Sotomayor’s temporary order and allowing same-sex marriage to move forward in Kansas. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.
In South Carolina on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Richard Mark Gergel in Charleston ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violated individual rights to equal protection under the 14th Amendment.
State Atty. Gen. Alan Wilson quickly announced he would appeal.
Gergel stayed his ruling until Nov. 20. Couples will not be allowed to wed until then.
The plaintiffs, Colleen Condon and her partner Nichols Bleckley, applied for a marriage license in October when a probate court judge agreed to accept applications. That came after the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal of a ruling allowing same-sex marriage in Virginia by the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which also has jurisdiction over South Carolina. However, the state Supreme Court issued a stay -- prompting the filing from Condon and Bleckley.
Gergel said that “in addressing plaintiffs’ constitutional claim to a fundamental right to marry, this court does not write on a blank canvas,” noting the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down key provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
In a statement, Wilson said the district court decision “does not change the constitutional obligation” of his office to defend the state’s constitution, which bans same-sex marriage.
“Our state’s laws on marriage are not identical to those in other states. Therefore, based on the time-honored tradition of federalism, this office believes South Carolina’s unique laws should have their day in court at the highest appropriate level,” Wilson said.
South Carolina Equality, a group that advocates for LGBT rights in the state, lauded the judge’s decision.
Condon said she was “relieved” and “excited” by the decision.
“Soon we will be able to obtain the marriage license we tried to get last month and resume our wedding plans. I represent families in South Carolina family court every day, and it is exhilarating to know that my family should now be recognized by South Carolina,” said Condon, who is an attorney.
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