America Has Gained Marriage Equality

South Carolina is located in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals along with Virginia.  The following timeline of events around marriage equality starts with the first case filed in Virginia.  As you will see in the timeline, SC Equality watched closely the legal events in Virginia leading up to the fall of 2014.  Once the United States Supreme Court ruled in the Virginia case, our lawyers immediately filed a lawsuit in the federal courts in Charleston seeking the rights of same sex couples to marry in South Carolina.

JUNE 26, 2015

The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the freedom to marry.  Read the decision here.

JANUARY 14, 2015

Berger and Tillis petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, bypassing consideration by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

DECEMBER 16, 2014

The Fourth Circuit consolidated these cases and put proceedings on hold pending action by the U.S. Supreme Court on cert petitions in DeBoer.

DECEMBER 1, 2014

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson asked the Fourth Circuit to suspend proceedings in this case pending U.S. Supreme Court action on writs of certiorari pending before it in other marriage cases like DeBoer v. Snyder. He told the court that he would be submitting a request for certiorari before judgment in Condon as well and that the other parties to this case did not object to his request.

NOVEMBER 20, 2014

South Carolina gained the freedom to marry.

OCTOBER 15, 2014

A lesbian couple, Colleen Condon and Nichols Bleckley, represented by Lambda Legal and South Carolina Equality filed suit in federal district court seeking the right to marry, citing Bostic. The defendants included the governor, the attorney general, and Judge Irvin G. Condon, the state judge who was enjoined from licensing same-sex marriages a week earlier by the South Carolina Supreme Court.[17] On November 12, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel ruled for the plaintiffs and stayed his decision until noon on November 20.[18] The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the state’s request for a stay pending appeal or a temporary stay on November 18.[19] Attorney General Wilson asked Chief Justice John Roberts, as Circuit Justice for the Fourth Circuit, for an emergency stay pending appeal later that day.[20] He made an argument other states in similar cases had not made to the Supreme Court, that the principle of federalism known as the “domestic relations exception”–which restricts the role of federal courts in certain areas reserved to the states–requires clarification.[21] Justice Roberts referred the request to the full court, which denied it with Justices Scalia and Thomas dissenting on November 20.

OOCTOBER 9, 2014

The South Carolina Supreme Court agreed to halt the issuance of licenses pending the resolution of Bradacs. Because a South Carolina couple cannot receive a marriage license until 24 hours after their marriage license application was accepted, no marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples in South Carolina, pending the outcome of Bradacs v. Haley

OCTOBER 8, 2014

Charleston County Probate Judge Irvin Condon, citing Bostic v. Rainey, accepted a marriage license application presented by a female couple, the first same-sex marriage license application accepted in the state.[15] In other parts of the state, some same-sex marriage license applications were blocked by judges. Attorney General Wilson filed Wilson v. Condon, requesting an emergency injunction from South Carolina Supreme Court to halt the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

OCTOBER 2, 2014

The Supreme Court released its first list of new cases the Court has agreed to hear during its new term, which starts Monday, Oct. 6, 2014.  Marriage was NOT on this list, but this move doesn’t necessarily mean the court will decline to hear a marriage case during the new term.  It will meet regularly in the upcoming weeks and months to decide which cases – including marriage – that it might take on.

SEPTEMBER 10, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court formally added marriage equality to its closed-door conference on September 29, 2014.  This does not mean that the Court will definitely hear the marriage case, but is a step in the right direction.

AUGUST 20, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court has intervened and blocked marriages in Virginia.   If the court declines to hear the Virginia appeal, the stay will  be lifted and couples in Virginia can begin getting married. Or, if the Court hears the appeal, we will ultimately wait for a Supreme Court ruling, probably in 2015.

AUGUST 18, 2014

The ACLU, ACLU of Virginia, and Lambda Legal and AFER have all  asked the Supreme Court to deny the motion filed Thursday by Prince William County Clerk Michele McQuigg seeking to stay 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring supports the request for the Supreme Court to stay the mandateof the court of appeals, and recognizing that timing is of the essence, has asked the Court to reach and decide the merits as quickly as the rule of law will permit.

AUGUST 15, 2014

Chief Justice John Roberts, the circuit judge for the 4th Circuit, says the Supreme Court will decide whether to issue a stay.

He also requested a response from the Plaintiffs, due to the Court by 5 p.m. Monday.

AUGUST 13, 2014

The 4th Circuit Court denied the requests to stay the ruling, allowing LGBT Virginians to marry as soon as August 20th! If the Supreme Court issues a stay before then, marriages will be put on hold in Virginia until the Supreme Court rules on the issue. Read the 4th Circuit Court’s decision to deny the stay here.

If the Supreme Court intervenes and chooses to hear the case, or any other same-sex marriage case, we will wait for their ruling, likely until summer 2015. If they choose not to hear the Bostic case or any other related case, the 4th Circuit Court decision stands. 

AUGUST 8, 2014

Virginia’s marriage case is now before the Supreme Court.  Attorney General Mark Herring’s petition for writ of certiorari calling on the Court to hear the case  has officially reached the Supreme Court. This is the third marriage equality case to reach the Court in recent weeks.

AUGUST 5, 2014

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced that he will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.  The Supreme Court will have at least three cases regarding marriage equality to possibly consider.

AUGUST 1, 2014

Prince William County Circuit Court Clerk Michele McQuigg requested a stay on the ruling. The ACLU of Virginia, the ACLU, and Lambda Legal filed in response to McQuigg, opposing the stay.

JULY 28, 2014

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, located in Richmond,  issued their ruling and upheld Judge Allen’s decision that Virginia’s ban is unconstitutional. The ruling was issued with a 21-day hold, allowing time for a stay to be issued.

APRIL 22, 2014

Judge Childs stayed proceedings in Bradacs vs. Haley until the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals disposed of the same-sex marriage case of Bostic v. Rainey, but she allowed briefing to continue.

MARCH 10, 2014

The ACLU of Virginia, the ACLU, and Lambda Legal filed a motion to include the Harris class-action suit as a party in the Bostic case. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the motion, so both cases will be determined by one ruling.

FEBRUARY 13, 2014

U.S. District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen ruled that Virginia’s ban on marriage was unconstitutional. The case was appealed to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, VA.

OCTOBER 18, 2013

The Bradacs v. Haley case was reassigned to District Judge J. Michelle Childs on October 18, 2013

AUGUST 28, 2013

Two women married in the District of Columbia in April 2012 who are raising three children filed a lawsuit, Bradacs v. Haley, in U.S. District of South Carolina challenging the state statute and constitutional amendment that deny legal recognition to same-sex marriages established in other jurisdictions. The plaintiffs are a state highway patrol officer and a disabled veteran of the U.S. Air Force. They named the state’s governor and attorney general as defendants. The case was initially assigned to U.S. District Judge Joseph Fletcher Anderson, Jr

AUGUST 1, 2013

Two couples, Joanne Harris and Jessica Duff, and Christi Berghoff and Victoria Kidd, with the help of the ACLU of Virginia, the ACLU, and Lambda Legal filed a class-action case against Virginia, representing the 14,000 same-sex couples in the Commonwealth. Their case was stayed, pending the ruling in the Bostic case.

JULY 18, 2013

Attorneys Erik Porcaro, Robert Ruloff, Thomas Shuttleworth, and Charles Lustig filed a suit on behalf of  Tim Bostic and Tony London, challenging Virginia’s ban on marriage. In September of 2013, Carol Schall and Mary Townley joined the lawsuit as plaintiffs, and the American Foundation for Equal Rights attorneys Theodore Olsen and David Boies joined the plaintiff’s legal team.


As long as injustice & inequality persist, and LGBTQ youth are bullied in schools across South Carolina, none of us can truly rest. It doesn’t take much to change a life, Get in touch today and start making the difference.