The U.S. Supreme Court will not allow South Carolina to delay issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples any further. This morning SCOTUS denied S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson’s request to stay a federal ruling that South Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. South Carolina officials took a new tact, attempting to persuade the Court that the federal courts lacked jurisdiction to rule on “domestic relations” issues. Apparently the argument did not matter enough to the majority of the justices. As a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s denying the request to postpone the effect of the federal judge’s order, same-sex marriages are legal in South Carolina as of noon today and we should see same-sex marriage licenses issued by county probate court offices around the state. It remains to be seen just how rapidly individual Clerk’s Offices will actually issue licenses when applied for.
It is important to note that SCOTUS ruled only on the issue of whether to postpone the federal judge’s ruling; it did not rule on the validity of the ruling. It is possible that SCOTUS will take up a case raising the question of whether the states’ even have the power to ban same-sex marriages in the first place.
As Family Law, Estate Planning, and Probate attorneys, we have been preparing for this momentous day and the various and substantial implications it will have for our clients.