Thursday, November 13, 2014

South Carolina Marriage Equality: Where We Stand

So, we had kind of a big day here in South Carolina yesterday after Judge Richard Gergel, a US District Court judge, struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban saying it violates the U.S. Constitution. Gergel did, however, issue a stay on his order until noon on November 20th, allowing for an appeal, and until that time no marriage licenses can be issued.

So, the dust is settling, but while we all celebrated the news, the story is far from over.

As expected, before the ink was dry on Gergel’s ruling, South Carolina’s Attorney General Alan Wilson said he will appeal the ruling to the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court. And that’s good, because the Fourth Circuit Court has already ruled that marriage bans are unconstitutional, and that ruling applies to Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina — who chose not to fight the ruling — and to Maryland, where marriage equality is already legal; only rabid dog Alan Wilson, is still fighting.
"Today's ruling comes as no surprise and does not change the constitutional obligation of this Office to defend South Carolina law, including, but not necessarily limited to, appeal to the Fourth Circuit." — Alan Wilson
This case was brought by SC Equality and Lambda Legal after Colleen Condon and her partner, Nichols Bleckley, applied for a marriage license in Charleston; a local probate court judge agreed to receive the couple's application and filings from other gay couples, and another judge, this one in Columbia, also began issuing licenses for same-sex couples.

But Wilson disagreed, and filed a motion that same day asking the South Carolina Supreme Court to stop the licenses from being issued, which it did the next day. That court said a separate decision being heard by the US District Court in South Carolina must be heard first before the state's ban could be tossed out.

And that case involves Katie Bradacs and her wife, Tracie Goodwin-Bradacs — and is the case for which The Will of the People Fund was created — who were married in 2012 in Washington DC and are suing to have their marriage recognized in this state. U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs is still considering that case and a ruling is expected soon.

But Gergel's ruling states that South Carolina’s law infringes on the US Constitution's due process and equal protection clause, and his order stops Wilson and any other law enforcement body in the state from enforcing the current ban.
"This court has carefully reviewed the language of South Carolina's constitutional and statutory ban on same sex marriage and now finds that there is no meaningful distinction between the existing South Carolina provisions and those of Virginia declared unconstitutional. The Court finds that [the Virginia decision] controls the disposition of the issues before this court and establishes, without question, the right of Plantiffs to marry as same-sex partners. The arguments of Defendent Wilson simply attempt to relitigate matters already addressed and resolved in [the Virginia decision.]”  — Richard Gergel
And that’s where Wilson is looking more and more like a fool. He seeks to appeal Gergel’s ruling to the Fourth Circuit Court which has already ruled, by virtue of its decision in Bostic v Virginia, that South Carolina’s marriage ban — and, really, all marriage bans are unconstitutional; Wilson maintains that South Carolina's law is unique:
"Our state's laws on marriage are not identical to those in other states. Therefore, based on the time-honored tradition of federalism, this Office believes South Carolina's unique laws should have their day in court at the highest appropriate level."
That’s not actually true; the ban in our state is exactly like bans in other states — notably North Carolina — where the people voted to amend the state Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, and where the ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court has already struck those laws down. Wilson stands in direct contrast to attorneys general in both North Carolina and West Virginia, who refused to defend their own states' bans following the Fourth Circuit ruling.

Alan Wilson is just a dog with a bone; and a hard-on for keeping gay couples as second class citizens in South Carolina. But, as we’ve seen in rulings by both the Fourth Circuit Court and the US Supreme Court — which just ruled that the stay on same-sex marriages is Kansas is over — Wilson will end up being swatted on the nose by the US Constitution.

Bad dog ... or, as Tuxedo says:

Yep, Alan Wilson Is Still Defending The Gay Marriage Ban
SC Attorney General To Appeal Same-Sex Marriage Ruling


the dogs' mother said...

This phrase had me trying to ingest coffee and laugh at the same time -
"South Carolina's law is unique"
Also Tuxedo has a place of distinction on our fridge. There is no higher honor. Even Abby isn't complaining.

anne marie in philly said...

wish wilson would slink away with his tail between his legs after the judge smacks him on the nose!

Bob Slatten said...

Anytime Tuxedo's picture is on display, he grins a bit wider! Glad Abby is, um, okay[?] with it!

Susan said...

Wilson may end up being Asshat of the year! Bugs Bunny's quote seems all too appropriate: "What a maroon!"