South Carolina court bars judges from issuing gay marriage licenses

Thu Oct 9, 2014 2:06pm EDT
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By Harriet McLeod

CHARLESTON S.C. (Reuters) - The South Carolina Supreme Court ordered state judges on Thursday not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples until a federal court rules on whether the state can continue enforcing its ban on such marriages.

The state Supreme Court's instruction came after Charleston County Probate Judge Irvin Condon accepted marriage license applications from 19 gay couples on Wednesday.

Condon had indicated he would begin issuing the documents after the state's mandatory 24-hour waiting period for marriage licenses, citing U.S. Supreme Court action this week that ended bans on same-sex marriages in five other states including Virginia.

South Carolina is bound by the same regional federal appeals court ruling that struck down Virginia's ban. So is North Carolina, where gay couples on Thursday anticipated that federal judges would strike down its same-sex marriage ban.

Elsewhere, efforts to block an appeals court ruling that allowed gay marriage to go into effect in Nevada appeared to be at an end. Gay marriage opponents filed papers with both the U.S. Supreme Court and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals withdrawing stay requests they had filed on Wednesday.

Litigation over Idaho's ban, which was struck down as part of the same appeals court ruling, was set to continue. In the meantime, marriages will not go ahead in that state.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, a Republican, asked the state Supreme Court to block Condon from issuing licenses, arguing a U.S. district court judge had yet to determine whether the state's voter-approved ban was legal.

Justices said they agreed the issue should be resolved by the district court that is hearing a pending challenge of the ban.   Continued...