( Charleston, SC, November 20, 2014 ) - Today, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the motion filed by South Carolina's Attorney General to further delay the start of marriage for same-sex couples.
"The order from the U.S. Supreme Court officially puts an end to the long fight for access to marriage for South Carolina's same-sex couples and their families. This decision clears away the last obstacle to marriage equality in the state," said Beth Littrell, Senior Attorney in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta. "We congratulate all the happy couples as South Carolina becomes the 35th state where same-sex couples can marry!"
"As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches next week, we here in the Palmetto State are so thankful that same-sex couples finally have the freedom to marry and be able to have the protections they need to take care of their families," said South Carolina Equality lawyer Nekki Shutt, partner at Callison Tighe & Robinson.
"'With liberty and justice for all' means more to me now than ever - it gives me chills. Finally my family is equal in the eyes of the state I grew up and made my life in, " said Lambda Legal client Colleen Condon.
Lambda Legal and South Carolina Equality represent Colleen Condon and Nichols Bleckley who applied for a marriage license in Charleston County soon after the U.S. Supreme Court last month declined to review rulings out of three federal appellate circuits - including the 4th Circuit - invalidating discriminatory marriage bans in five states. However, before they received their marriage license, South Carolina's Attorney General asked the South Carolina State Supreme Court to step in and halt the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The South Carolina Supreme Court effectively stopped state court judges from issuing marriage licenses or weighing in on marriage equality pending an order from federal court. Last week U.S. District Court Richard Gergel struck down the discriminatory marriage ban, but delayed enforcement of his order for one week - until Noon on November 20 - to give the State a chance to appeal. On Tuesday, the Fourth Circuit denied the Attorney General's request to extend the stay, but South Carolina's Attorney General immediately appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court of the United States. Today's Supreme Court ruling denying the State's application for postponement allows marriages to begin.
Lambda Legal attorney Beth Littrell is handling the case, joined by South Carolina Equality Coalition attorneys M. Malissa Burnette and Nekki Shutt of Callison Tighe & Robinson, LLC., and Vickie Eslinger, with Nexsen Pruett,LLC.
Read the decision here: www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/condon_sc_20141020_order .
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.
South Carolina Equality Coalition works to secure civil and human rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender South Carolinians.