The Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage Friday will have only a minimal impact in South Carolina, where it was legalized last year.
The justices ruled in a 5-4 decision that all gay or lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marry, overriding existing bans in the last 14 states that had not legalized the marriages through their laws or court order.
South Carolina was among those states where a court order tossed out a ban last year. Counties began accepting marriage applications in November after a federal judge struck down the state’s law and higher courts refused to take up the state’s appeal.
The court ruled states that refuse to provide marriage licenses to such couples violate the Constitution’s provision requiring “equal protection under the law.” Friday’s ruling gives few legal options to opponents, although South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said he would still fight for religious freedoms.
“This week, we have seen the U.S. Supreme Court deliver a devastating blow to the Tenth Amendment, which was designed by our founders to protect the authority of individual states,” Wilson said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this decision empowers federal judges to rewrite any law and overturn any vote of the people. Our system of government was founded upon checks and balances within different branches of government, not upon the unlimited power of unelected judges.”
The four justices who dissented from the ruling insisted the constitution does not address marriage, meaning it should be a state issue.