Federal Judge Orders South Carolina Officials to Stop Enforcing Gay Marriage Ban

by Stoyan Zaimov  |  published on November 13, 2014

A federal judge ordered South Carolina officials to stop enforcing the state’s ban on gay marriage on Wednesday. District Judge Richard Gergel gave the state a one-week stay to appeal, but same-sex couples could begin filing for marriage licenses on Nov. 20.

“The court hereby declares that [the South Carolina constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage], to the extent they seek to prohibit the marriage of same-sex couples who otherwise meet all other legal requirements for marriage in South Carolina, unconstitutionally infringe on the rights of plaintiffs under the due process clause and equal protection clause of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and are invalid as a matter of law,” the ruling stated, according to NBC affiliate WIS.

Gergel added that he found no real distinction between South Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage and a similar ban that was declared unconstitutional in Virginia. Gergel said that the earlier decision in Virginia “establishes, without question, the right of plaintiffs to marry as same-sex partners.”

South Carolina had opposed changing the legal definition of marriage despite a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to not take up the 4th U.S. Circuit of Appeals decision that overturned Virginia’s marriage amendment. The 4th Circuit also oversees South Carolina.