Gay marriage advocates get victories in Kansas, South Carolina

Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:04pm EST
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By Harriet McLeod and Lawrence Hurley

CHARLESTON S.C./WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Gay marriage advocates won another two victories on Wednesday as the U.S. Supreme Court allowed Kansas to become the 33rd U.S. state where same-sex couples can wed and a federal judge struck down South Carolina's ban.

The high court declined a request from Kansas officials to block U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Crabtree's Nov. 4 ruling that struck down the state's gay marriage ban as a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Two of the nine justices, conservatives Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, said in the brief court order they would have granted the stay.

In Charleston, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel ruled that South Carolina is bound by an earlier federal appeals court decision striking down Virginia's similar law. Gergel's decision will not take effect for one week, allowing South Carolina time to appeal.

That could allow gay couples to file for marriage licenses or begin receiving them starting Nov. 20 if the state cannot obtain a further delay through the courts.

"We're ecstatic," said Colleen Condon, 44, who filed the lawsuit heard by Gergel after she and her fiancée were denied a marriage license in Charleston last month.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, a Republican, said he would appeal Wednesday's ruling.

Wednesday's court actions follow decisions last week rejecting bans in Missouri and West Virginia, the latest in a series of such federal district court rulings across the nation.   Continued...

Kathy Stewart (R) places a ring on the finger of her partner, Vicky Mangus (L), during a wedding ceremony outside of the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds office in Charlotte, North Carolina, October 13, 2014. REUTERS/Davis Turner