South Carolina’s chief prosecutor is asking a federal judge to toss out a challenge to the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office cited last week’s federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, which maintains states have a right to regulate marriage, in documents filed with District Judge Richard Gergel. A Charleston lesbian couple, Charleston County councilwoman Colleen Condon and partner Nichols Bleckley have sued the state over the ban. A Charleston probate judge had accepted the pair’s marriage license application last month, but the state Supreme Court blocked it until a previously ongoing lawsuit (Bradacs v. Haley) could be resolved. That case involving a Lexington County couple is still unresolved in a separate Upstate federal court.
Bleckley and Condon have asked a federal judge to rule in their favor without a trial, arguing a higher court (the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals) has already ruled Virginia’s similar ban unconstitutional. That same appeals court’s jurisdiction includes South Carolina. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal of that ruling, leading LGBT groups to believe they would be able to win court cases involving lower judges. Bleckley and Condon sought to get a marriage license shortly after the Supreme Court’s decision.
In its new filings, the Attorney General’s Office argues that state lawmakers and voters should decide to end the ban. The decision “emphasizes that marriage is inherently a union of a man and a woman, and that whether that definition is expanded to include same-sex couples is a decision for the states including their people and their legislatures,” the filings stated, according to the Associated Press.
Wilson has previously stated he is duty-bound to defend all of the state’s laws and constitution, including its ban on gay marriage.