Same-Sex Couples Denied Marriage Licenses; Petition Drive Begins

Greenville, SC (WLTX) Several same-sex couples tried to get marriage licenses in Greenville Wednesday but were denied because of the state's ban on gay marriages. They were part of Campaign for Southern Equality's "We Do" campaign. Supporters of gay marriage rally and then try to get marriage licenses, even though they know they'll be denied.

"Unfortunately we were denied this time, but we are quite hopeful that with the ruling this Monday that it'll change," Rachel Duncan said afterward, with her partner Brianna Watts.

On Monday, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Virginia's ban on gay marriages is unconstitutional. North and South Carolina are also part of that judicial circuit. After the ruling, North Carolina's attorney general said he would no longer defend the state's ban, but South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson says he will.

Because of that, SC Equality and the ACLU of South Carolina started a petition drive Wednesday, asking Wilson to stop defending the state's law. SC Equality executive director Ryan Wilson says defending a law that's like one already struck down by a federal appeals court is a waste of taxpayers' money.

"We have no idea how long South Carolina could draw out this case, and so to quantify the amount right now would be quite difficult. But there are a lot more pressing issues in South Carolina for the attorney general's office to deal with than to deny a group of people civil rights under the Constitution," he says.

Wilson's spokesman, J. Mark Powell, said in a written statement that attorneys are reviewing the court's ruling and its impact on South Carolina's law and a pending case against it.

"Currently, South Carolina's law remains intact, and, of course, our office will continue to defend it," he says.

"However, it should be noted that in other circuits, stays have been granted following invalidation of individual state laws, which have caused confusion in those states.

"Ultimately, this will be a decision for the U.S. Supreme Court. People should not rush to act or react until that time, when a decision is made by the highest court in the land."

The Palmetto Family Alliance is also defending the state's law banning gay marriages. It says South Carolina's law is written differently from Virginia's. South Carolina's law protects a person's right to make contracts with another person as long as those contracts are outside the institution of marriage.


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