It only took forty-five days

Posted Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 by Gregory Forman
Filed under Divorce and Marriage, Not South Carolina Specific, Of Interest to General Public

When, on October 6, 2014, in Rainey v. Bostic, 135 S.Ct. 286 (2014), the United States Supreme Court denied Virginia’s petition for certiorari in Bostic v. Schaefer, 760 F. 3d 352 (4th Cir. 2014), I predicted “it is only a matter of time–possibly even days–before South Carolina’s ban [on same sex marriages] is found unconstitutional.” Within days the two other states within the Fourth Circuit that continued to ban same sex marriages lifted their bans: West Virginia on October 9th and North Carolina on October 10th. However, South Carolina’s attorney general continued to fight to ban same sex marriages.

On November 12th, U.S. District Court Judge Gergel found our state’s ban on same sex marriage to be unconstitutional. Condon v. Haley, 21 F.Supp.3d 572 (D.S.C 2014). He stayed his decision until noon November 20th to give the state time to seek an additional stay from a higher court. On November 18th, the Fourth Circuit denied our attorney general’s request for a stay. On November 19th, the South Carolina Supreme Court lifted its injunction against county probate judges issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. State ex rel. Wilson v. Condon, 410 S.C. 554, 765 S.E.2d 834 (2014). Same sex marriages started taking place in South Carolina that same date. On November 20th, the United States Supreme Court denied the attorney general’s stay request. Wilson v. Condon, 135 S.Ct. 702 (2014).  After this order, it was clear that same sex marriages were now authorized in South Carolina.

I was in the midst of trying a custody and divorce case when same sex marriages finally became legal in South Carolina, so I couldn’t note this momentous occasion when it occurred. What took North Carolina and West Virginia mere days to accept, took South Carolina forty-five days of contested litigation to accede to. By Friday, November 21st, I had my first inquiry about handling a same sex divorce.

It was a great day in South Carolina.

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