Lambda Legal and South Carolina Equality filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday seeking immediate recognition of same-gender marriages in the state, following last week’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court not to take up appellate cases ont the issue.
The lawsuit, in which Charleston County Councilmember Colleen Condon and her fiancee Nichols Bleckley are plaintiffs, says the state is obligated to allow same-sex marriages. Condon and Bleckley were the first same-sex couple to apply for a marriage license last Wednesday, but were unable to marry after the state Supreme Court halted any further action on the issue.
The U.S. Supreme Court had declined to hear an appeals case which struck down Virginia’s anti-LGBT marriage ban. The refusal to hear the case and several other similar appeals cases, opened the door to legal marriages in other Fourth Circuit states — West Virginia and North Carolina. But, South Carolina is still holding out.
“The Fourth Circuit’s decision means that same-sex couples in South Carolina should be shopping for a caterer, not a lawyer. Governor Haley and Attorney General Wilson cannot continue to ignore the rule of law. Fortunately, they have run out of cards to play – we’re urging the court to allow same-sex couples in South Carolina to marry without any further delay,” Beth Littrell, senior attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta, said in a release. “The state doesn’t have any credible arguments for a court in South Carolina to entertain.”
South Carolina Equality, the state’s LGBT advocacy group, has joined the lawsuit.
“The Governor and Attorney General are playing politics with our families and it’s shameful,” South Carolina Equality lawyer Nekki Shutt, partner at Callison Tighe & Robinson, said in a release. “Instead of celebrating and planning weddings, same-sex couples all over South Carolina are holding their collective breath – and they have been waiting long enough.”