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Justices Reject S.C. Bid |to Block Gay Marriage

(CN) - A divided U.S. Supreme Court rejected an emergency application from South Carolina officials tyrig to keep the ban on gay marriage there alive.

The two-sentence order Thursday offers no explanaton, except that Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas would have granted a stay.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson had hoped that the the high court would extend the stay of U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel's Nov. 6 ruling, which found that the U.S. Constitution protects same-sex marriage, despite a statewide ban on such unions.

Wilson had made a similar appeal to the 4th Circuit, but walked away empty-handed, prompting his emergency appeal to the Supreme Court.

In arguing for the high court's intervention, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson insisted the state's voters, rather than courts, should decide questions related to issues like marriage.

Wilson also argued that the legal landscape had changed since the Supreme Court last month refused to hear appeals from decisions striking down bans on same-sex marriage in five states - namely that the 6th Circuit recently ruled 2-1 that states, not the federal government, have the right to set rules on marriage. That decision has also been appealed to the Supreme Court.

Four other courts of appeal, including the 4th Circuit, have ruled against state bans on gay marriage.

"Despite today's refusal to grant our motion, the U.S. Supreme Court has not yet resolved conflicting rulings by federal appeals courts on the issue of same sex marriage," Wilson said in a statement. "When the U.S. Supreme Court decides to consider the case, our office will be supporting the position of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is more consistent with South Carolina State law, which upholds the unique status of traditional marriage."


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