A federal appeals Tuesday court ruled in favor of ending South Carolina's gay marriage ban in a decision that could allow same-sex marriages by the end of the week.

The appeals court denied the state’s request to stay a district court ruling last week striking down the ban on gay marriage.  The district judge had delayed the ruling for a week to give the appeals court time to weigh South Carolina’s motion.


By denying to hear the case or extend the stay, gay marriages can begin in South Carolina at noon on Thursday. Barring emergency action by the U.S. Supreme Court, South Carolina will become the 34th state to legalize same-sex marriage.

State Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a statement that he will appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court because the issue has not been resolved nationally.

“Today's ruling by the Fourth Circuit does not end the constitutional obligation of this Office to defend South Carolina law,” he said, according to WCIV News in Charleston, S.C.

”We continue to believe the doctrine of federalism and the Tenth Amendment should allow South Carolina's unique laws to be considered at the highest appropriate court of appeal. We will be seeking an application to the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay shortly," he added.

Most district and appeals courts have ruled to allow gay marriage and the Supreme Court initially declined to take up the issue this fall in part because lower courts had ruled in unison.

But the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor of a gay marriage ban, which suggests to many court-watchers that the Supreme Court will seek to reconcile the conflicting opinions.