A second lawsuit has now been filed against South Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage.
A pair of LGBT rights organizations filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday on behalf of a Charleston County lesbian couple whose application for a marriage license last week was halted by a state Supreme Court ruling.
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the 4th Circuit Court’s decision invalidating Virginia’s similar ban. Because the 4th Circuit Court’s jurisdiction includes South Carolina, observers say it creates the precedent for any federal judge to almost certainly also rule South Carolina’s ban unconstitutional. Federal District Judge Michelle Childs is currently handling a separate lawsuit (Bradacs v. Haley) filed by two Lexington County women who were married in Washington, D.C.
After the Supreme Court’s action, Charleston County probate judge Irvin Condon began accepting applications from same-sex couples. The first couple to apply was Charleston County Councilwoman Colleen Condon (a distant cousin of the judge) and her partner Nichols Bleckley. But Condon and Bleckley never received their license — the state Supreme Court ordered Judge Condon to stop, ruling that the Bradacs case should be decided first.
Bleckley and Condon filed the lawsuit a week later, with the help of SC Equality and Lambda Legal. “We have a right to get married,” Condon told reporters after filing the suit. “We’ve both been issued marriage licenses from this very building before and we aren’t being allowed now because we want to marry each other.”
The suit names Judge Condon, Gov. Nikki Haley, and state Attorney General Wilson as defendants. Wilson has continued to defend South Carolina’s ban, previously saying that his office would uphold the state constitution until a court rules otherwise. Haley has also previously said she wants the courts to rule on the Palmetto State’s ban.
Lambda Legal attorney Beth Littrell said the state will almost certainly lose. “It’s futile. And in fact a lot of people are hurt,” she said. “One of which is all of the taxpayers, because it costs money and resources to fight a losing lawsuit.”
The Attorney General’s Office has 21 days to respond to the complaint.