- Associated Press - Thursday, December 11, 2014

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - The attorneys whose lawsuit helped open the way for same-sex marriage in South Carolina want a federal judge to order the state to reimburse them more than $150,000 in legal fees.

The Post and Courier of Charleston reports the attorneys representing a Charleston couple who challenged the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage want U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel to order the attorney general to reimburse them nearly $153,000.

Judges can order losing parties to pay opponents’ fees, especially in civil rights cases. The request asks for fees for more than 446 hours of work by seven attorneys.

Gergel found South Carolina’s ban unconstitutional last month and will rule later on the issue of fees.

Meanwhile, a state senator is proposing that probate judges be allowed to opt-out of issuing same-sex marriage licenses if they object on religious grounds.

Republican state Sen. Lee Bright of Roebuck has pre-filed a bill to allow probate judges and court employees to refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses if they object to doing so “based upon a sincerely held religious belief.”

If they refuse to issue the licenses, judges and employees could not be disciplined or sued for their actions, according to Bright’s proposal.

State Attorney General Alan Wilson fought the lawsuit Gergel ruled on that was brought by Charleston County Councilwoman Colleen Condon and her partner, Nichols Bleckley.

Earlier the U.S. Supreme Court had refused to hear an appeal of a decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, overturning Virginia’s ban on gay marriage. That opened the way to gay marriages in other states in the circuit.

Wilson was the only attorney general in the circuit to continue fighting gay marriages, saying it is his duty to uphold the state’s constitutional ban.

Neither the 4th Circuit nor the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to Wilson’s request to stop same-sex marriage in South Carolina while he appealed.

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Information from: The Post and Courier, https://www.postandcourier.com


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