By Kurtis Lee
Several counties in South Carolina on Thursday doled out marriage licenses to same-sex couples, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute effort to halt the nuptials in the state.
From Columbia to Charleston, couples lined up at probate courts to obtain the licenses, sharing photos on social media and calling for marriage equality in all 50 states.
In Richland County, which spans much of the capital city of Columbia, a dozen licenses had been handed out as of 1:30 p.m.
Despite Thursday's Supreme Court ruling, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson is not giving up on his effort to halt same-sex marriages in the state. In a statement, he said he hopes the Supreme Court will consider a case out of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that might halt same-sex marriages.
"Despite today's refusal to grant our motion, the U.S. Supreme Court has not yet resolved conflicting rulings by federal appeals courts on the issue of same-sex marriage," Wilson said in the statement.
In the Supreme Court ruling rejecting the South Carolina application for a stay, conservative Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.
Two federal judges in the state have already ruled against the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
The battle over same-sex marriage in South Carolina has gone through several ups-and-downs in recent months.
In October, Colleen Condon and her partner Nichols Bleckley applied for a marriage license in Charleston, S.C., after the U.S. Supreme Court had decided not to hear an appeal of a ruling allowing same-sex marriage in Virginia by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over South Carolina. A probate court judge agreed to accept applications but the state Supreme Court quickly stayed that decision at Wilson's request.
On Wednesday, Montana's ban on same-sex marriage was struck down by a federal judge who called the ban unconstitutional. The state's attorney general plans to appeal the decision. Marriages in the state began Thursday.
More than 30 states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples to marry.
"As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches next week, we here in the Palmetto State are so thankful that same-sex couples finally have the freedom to marry and be able to have the protections they need to take care of their families," South Carolina Equality lawyer Nekki Shutt said in a statement.
(c)2014 Los Angeles Times