The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to block gay marriages in South Carolina.

The high court on Thursday issued an order denying a request by Attorney General Alan Wilson. The Republican prosecutor had wanted the marriages blocked while he challenges a judge's recent decision that opened the way for the marriages.

Under U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel's order, the marriages were to begin at noon Thursday. But as a practical matter, licenses are already being issued and weddings performed. The first marriage was in Charleston on Wednesday.

That day, the state Supreme Court allowed probate judges statewide to issue same-sex licenses. That decision came after a federal judge in Columbia ruled that the state's refusal to recognize gay marriages performed in other states was unconstitutional.