Same-gender couples will be able to legally wed in South Carolina starting tomorrow, finally bringing legal marriage equality to the state more than a month after the U.S. Supreme Court set of a chain reaction of legal filings and court hearings.
The move forward comes as the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals denied an appeal attempt from South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson on Tuesday. Last week, a federal judge in the state had overturned the state’s anti-gay marriage ban, passed by 78 percent of voters in 2006. The judge then issued a one-week stay, which expires on Thursday at noon.
The State newspaper reports that a Charleston judge is already processing marriage license applications in anticipation of the expiring stay. In South Carolina, couples must wait a required 24 hours to receive a marriage license after first applying. According to some social media reports, at least one couple has apparently already wed.
On Oct. 6, the U.S. Supreme Court denied to hear several appellate cases on the question of same-gender marriage, including a Virginia case. Their denial had the effect of upholding the Fourth Circuit’s decision overturning the Virginia ban. Two days later, a Charleston judge accepted a marriage license application, though he and others were halted by South Carolina’s state Supreme Court. The couple later filed suit against the state, resulting in the overturning of the ban last week.
“The end game is clear — marriage will soon be available for same-sex couples in South Carolina. This is a great victory for same-sex couples and their families because it removes one more hurdle to finally walking down the aisle,” Beth Littrell, senior attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta, said in a press release.
To the north, LGBT couples in North Carolina began to marry on Oct. 10, after a late-week order from a federal judge there that day. The first full day of marriage equality in North Carolina saw record numbers of marriage license applications filed across the state.