The Supreme Court upheld a decision to overturn the same-sex marriage ban in South Carolina, Thursday morning. The decision now means same-sex marriage is legal in 35 states.
After the ban on same-sex marriage was overturned by a lower court, South Carolina Attorney General, Alan Wilson appealed to the high Court for a stay on the decision stopping marriage licenses from being issued until the matter was heard by the Court. That request was denied today. The request mirrored one in Kansas made last week, when the ban on gay marriage in that state was overturned. While the request was denied by the court, both Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas said they would have granted the requests from both states, delaying same-sex marriage until a formal hearing.
Four appellate courts from around the country have ruled that banning gay marriage violates the Constitution, and will not hear arguments by states wishing to keep the ban in place. The Supreme Court has refused to hear these cases which has allowed states in the appellate districts to be on their way to recognizing gay marriage as legal.
The Supreme Court will most likely have to hear cases brought before it by Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ban on gay marriages in these states, and what makes this different than the same-sex ruling upholding the lower court’s overturning of the ban, is that the split in the federal courts for those states will make the Supreme Court the deciding tie breaker. It is not clear whether the Court will hear arguments before the end of its session in June. Based on the history of cases going before the Supreme Court on this issue, it’s likely challengers of banning gay marriage in these states will win with the only dissenters on the issue being Justices Scalia and Thomas.
On Wednesday, the first same-sex marriage licenses were issued in South Carolina as a the decision for a stay was eagerly awaited from the Court. Six licenses were issued in less than 90 minutes in Charleston County. The rush was, in part, out of fear that the Supreme Court would grant the stay and place the same-sex marriage ban back into effect until the case was formerly heard.
After Attorney General Wilson’s request for a stay was denied, he issued a statement to the media. In his statement, he looked to the cases in the six appellate districts where the gay marriage ban was upheld, and said he would await the Court’s decision on those cases, with Wilson supporting the 6th Circuit Court on their decision to uphold traditional marriage.
With South Carolina’s same-sex marriage ban getting overturned this week, more states in the Union now recognize gay marriage than outlaw it. It’s an argument for what the Supreme Court has asked for before ruling on the case, and that’s a consensus on the issue. With the majority of the states now accepting gay marriage as a legal union, it seems that consensus is there. On Wednesday, a Federal judge overturned Montana’s ban on same-sex marriage with licenses being granted to couples as well.
By Jennifer Gulbrandsen