CHARLESTON, South Carolina — Requests for tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees from attorneys who argued to overturn the South Carolina's gay marriage ban are on hold even as same-sex weddings continue in the state.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, last week combined the two main gay marriage cases in South Carolina and is holding those cases pending developments at the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 4th Circuit, which includes South Carolina, has overturned state laws banning gay marriages. But the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati has ruled the opposite way, upholding gay marriage bans in four states, opening the way for the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the issue.
South Carolina Attorney Alan Wilson, who has defended the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage, had asked the 4th Circuit to put on hold any further action in the South Carolina cases until a decision by the Supreme Court.
Attorneys for Colleen Condon and her partner Nichols Bleckley of Charleston, who sued the state to get a marriage license, said in court documents they do not object to putting their case on hold "in light of the possibility the Supreme Court may render a decision to finally resolve the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans."
Attorneys for the couple have asked U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel to order the attorney general to reimburse them nearly $153,000 in legal fees, representing 446 hours of work by seven attorneys. Their lawsuit was filed Oct. 15.
In the second South Carolina case, U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs ruled in favor of Highway Patrol Trooper Katherine Bradacs and U.S. Air Force retiree Tracie Goodwin, who sued to have the state to recognize their marriage performed in Washington, D.C.
Childs ruled last month the state's failure to recognize their marriage was unconstitutional.
Requests for attorney fees in that case, which has been in the courts since August 2013, were to have been submitted last week. That deadline is now on hold.
Wilson argued in a motion that delaying fee requests would ensue "the rights of the parties in the appeal are determined before a decision is made whether or not to award fees."
Judges can order losing parties to pay opponents' fees, especially in civil rights cases.