Federal district Judge Richard Gergel has overturned South Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage, the Charleston Post and Courier reports — following the state's continuing efforts to block rulings by federal courts on the issue.
Judge Gergel based his decision on the ruling this past July by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, whose regional jurisdiction includes South Carolina, and on which the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal. Those events spurred Charleston County to prepare to issue marriage licenses to gay couples a month ago — but the process was then halted by the South Carolina Supreme Court, at the request of the state Attorney General, pending the resolution of lawsuits.
Gergel also directly pointed out in his ruling that the 4th Circuit is the "controlling authority" — which Columbia's The State points out is apparently a castigation of the state for continuing to fight against the circuit's ruling.
Judge Gergel also put a stay on his decision, to last through Nov. 20, however, giving the state of South Carolina further time to appeal. Though with the appeals court itself having already ruled on this issue, there would really be only one place left for South Carolina to try to appeal: The U.S. Supreme Court, a scenario that has increasingly been looking more probable.