Two federal judges made history today by ruling for marriage equality – one in Kansas and one in South Carolina.
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel issued a ruling in South Carolina, declaring that state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Judge Gergel ruled in favor of Colleen Condon and Ann Bleckley, a same-sex couple who filed a lawsuit against the state when they were denied a marriage license after applying for one and paying the filing fee in early October.
In the ruling, Judge Gergel granted the state’s motion for a temporary stay on issuing gay marriage licenses until Nov. 20. Governor Nikki Haley and Attorney General Alan Wilson are expected to appeal the decision, however the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals already ruled on similar cases in Virginia, overturning that state’s marriage equality ban.
And today in Kansas, U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree ordered Kansas to stop enforcing its discriminatory ban on marriages for same-sex couples. In his decision, Judge Crabtree noted that “Kansas’ same-sex marriage ban does not differ in any meaningful respect from the Utah and Oklahoma laws the Tenth Circuit found unconstitutional.” Crabtree felt that the 10th Circuit Court’s precedent was binding, as Kansas falls under the 10th Circuit Court’s jurisdiction.
The state now has the option to appeal today’s order to the Tenth Circuit, which has already ruled such marriage bans unconstitutional.
Interestingly, Kansas and South Carolina were both holdout states, as the federal Circuit Courts that have jurisdiction of the two states both ruled earlier this year that bans on marriage equality violate the US Constitution. Those rulings were allowed to stand when the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear the cases on appeal, paving the way for marriage equality to become law in all states within the Tenth and Fourth Circuits.