South Carolina Begins Issuing Gay Marriage Licenses, Mississippi Could Start Issuing Licenses Soon

Gay marriage rights have advanced in the Deep South, as the state of South Carolina started issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples on Wednesday. The move to allow gay marriages to go forward came when a federal appeals court rejected the state's attempt to delay them.

According a report by NBC News, the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals denied the state's request to stop gay marriage pending an appeal. Even though the state has started issuing licenses, the state's attorney general, Alan Wilson, said the state would make an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Wilson released a statement to explain why the state would appeal.

"This issue has not yet been resolved nationally. It is still likely the U.S. Supreme Court will address conflicting rulings between federal circuit courts of appeal. Therefore, today's ruling by the Fourth Circuit does not end the constitutional obligation of this office to defend South Carolina law."
Even as Wilson was announcing the state's intention to take the issue before the highest court in the land, gay marriage licenses were being issued and couples were exchanging vows. As ABC News reported, six gay marriage licenses were issued within the first 90 minutes that the Charleston County Probate Court was opened. One couple even exchanged vows right outside the court's office.

Some legal experts think that the next state to start issuing gay marriage licenses could be Mississippi. Bloomberg reported that a federal district court judge heard five hours of testimony on Wednesday regarding allowing gay marriage to go forward in the state. The judge hearing the case would have to rule Mississippi's state ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional in order for gay marriage to be allowed. Experts think the federal district court's ruling could be made this week.

John Eastman, the chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, which is prominent in the fight against gay marriage, told reporters he didn't think U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves would rule against allowing gay marriage in the state.

"Not a single Clinton- or Obama-appointed judge has ruled in favor of marriage laws since U.S. v. Windsor. I'd be surprised if Reeves became the first one."
If South Carolina does appeal to the Supreme Court, they could possibly follow the state of Michigan in taking their case to the top court. As the Inquisitr reported, Michigan's attorney general told officials to treat 300 same-sex marriages as if they had never happened. Michigan's state constitution bans gay marriage and will appeal a decision that called the ban unconstitutional.

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