by Paul Bowers
This morning in a Charleston County courthouse at 100 Broad St., County Council member Colleen Condon and her fiancée Nichols Bleckley became the first same-sex couple in South Carolina to successfully apply for a marriage license. But Condon says that even after the 24-hour waiting period has passed for the court to grant them the license, she and her partner will wait to plan a formal wedding rather than get married at the courthouse.
"We're both South Carolina girls. I mean, we live in Charleston, No. 1 wedding destination in the country. Why would we want to go anywhere else?" Condon says. "We want our family and friends to be able to be here and celebrate it. We're not looking to get married on the street and say 'I do' today. That's not our style. That's great for so many people who've been waiting so long, who are anxious to get married immediately. For us, we want a big, traditional Southern wedding."
Condon says she wasn't sure what would happen when she and Bleckley went to the courthouse this morning. "We were not sure what was going to happen," Condon says. "We went in fully anticipating that we might be turned away."
Probate Judge Irvin G. Condon has said his office will issue same-sex marriage licenses after the mandatory 24-hour waiting period unless stayed by a higher court. Colleen Condon says that Judge Condon is her third cousin.
As of 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, a receptionist at the Charleston County probate court said that no other same-sex licenses had been applied for yet. The only change that has been made on the application is that the blanks that previously read "groom" and "bride" now read "Applicant 1" and "Applicant 2."
Colleen Condon was outed as a lesbian by South Carolina political gossip blog FITSNews in 2013, although she told County Council at the time, "I don't think that's a sex scandal in 2013." Condon confirmed to the Post and Courier that she had been married to a man for 15 years, but she and her husband separated amicably in 2011. She said her relationship with Bleckley began after she and her husband were separated, and she now says she and her fiancée have been together for a year-and-a-half.
Colleen Condon, a family attorney based in Charleston, says she was closely following the court cases that led up to Judge Condon's decision, particularly the Fourth Circuit of Appeals decision in Bostic v. Shaefer that ultimately led to the overturning of Virginia's same-sex marriage ban and cleared the way for similar rulings throughout the Fourth Circuit, which includes South Carolina.
"It was wonderful. I'm a lawyer. I read Bostic v. Schaefer months ago, and to me it was clear the Fourth Circuit was saying, 'Do the right thing,'" Colleen Condon says. "Once the Supreme Court of the United States agreed on Monday there were no reasons to wait, we went to get our marriage license, and now we'll start booking the caterer and florist and DJ and where our wedding will be. We're excited about getting everything planned now."