A federal appeals court denied an emergency stay Tuesday that would have halted gay marriages in South Carolina. The stay was denied by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday afternoon as the clock ticked toward a noon Thursday deadline when same-sex marriages could begin in the state.
Attorney General Alan Wilson had sought the emergency stay after U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel ruled last week that the state’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. However, he stayed his ruling until noon on Thursday to give the state’s attorney general, who is upholding South Carolina’s voter-backed gay marriage ban, a week to file an appeal.
“Upon consideration of submissions relative to appellant’s motion for stay pending appeal, the court denies the motion and denies the alternate request for temporary stay,” the appellate justices wrote.
Attorney General Alan Wilson released the following statement on the ruling, saying his office would try an eleventh-hour appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court:
“This issue has not yet been resolved nationally. It is still likely the U.S. Supreme Court will address conflicting rulings between federal circuit courts of appeal. Therefore, today’s ruling by the Fourth Circuit does not end the constitutional obligation of this Office to defend South Carolina law. We continue to believe the doctrine of federalism and the Tenth Amendment should allow South Carolina’s unique laws to be considered at the highest appropriate court of appeal. We will be seeking an application to the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay shortly.”
Attorneys representing South Carolina Equality praised the decision and called on Wilson to drop any further appeals. “We urge the Attorney General to stop trying to delay the inevitable –their actions are damaging to families they were elected to protect,” SC Equality lawyer Malissa Burnette said in a statement.