A federal judge on Wednesday struck down South Carolina's ban on gay marriage as unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel of Charleston rejected arguments made by Attorney General Alan Wilson and Governor Nikki Haley, who are fighting to keep the ban in place, saying that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in a recent case “exhaustively addressed the issues raised by Defendants and firmly and unambiguously recognized a fundamental right of same sex couples to marry and the power of the federal courts to address and vindicate that right.”

Gergel said that Bostic, in which the appeals court struck down Virginia's ban, had set a precedent in the Fourth Circuit on the issue.

“The Court finds that Bostic controls the disposition of the issues before this Court and establishes, without question, the right of Plaintiffs to marry as same sex partners,” Gergel said in his 26-page ruling. “The arguments of Defendant Wilson simply attempt to relitigate matters already addressed and resolved in Bostic. Any effort by Defendant Wilson or others to overrule Bostic should be addressed to the Fourth Circuit and/or the United States Supreme Court.”

Gergel's decision is set to take effect on Thursday, November 20 at noon, giving the state more than a week to appeal the ruling.

Plaintiffs in the case are Colleen Condon, a county councilwoman, and Anne Nichols Bleckley of Charleston County. The women's application for a marriage license was accepted by a county probate judge after Virginia's ban fell. Wilson responded by asking the South Carolina Supreme Court to direct judges to refrain from issuing such licenses until a federal case challenging the ban is resolved. The court granted the request. Condon and Bleckley asked Gergel to allow the probate judge to issue them a marriage license.

South Carolina is the lone state in the Fourth Circuit currently enforcing its marriage ban after the Supreme Court on October 6 refused to hear an appeal in the case challenging Virginia's ban, effectively striking down such bans in the Fourth Circuit.

(Ruling provided by Equality Case Files.)