Carolina prepares for Supreme Court decisions on Wednesday

Decision on landmark marriage cases expected on Wednesday morning

Originally published: June 25, 2013, 11:49 a.m.
Updated: June 26, 2013, 8:49 a.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court again punted decisions on Tuesday on two landmark marriage equality cases challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8, a 2008 constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Chief Justice John Roberts said the Court would meet again at 10 a.m. Wednesday to release all its remaining opinons.

The two opinions will come on the tenth anniversary of the decision in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which struck down anti-gay crimes against nature laws across the U.S.

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The case on Proposition 8 could overturn the 2008 California anti-gay marriage amendment. The case on DOMA could enable same-sex couples with state-recognized marriages to receive federal benefits. It may also give bi-national couples the option to apply for permanent resident status for immigrant spouses, just as heterosexuals can.

Ryan Wilson and his husband Shehan Welihindha shortly after they met in 2008.

Ryan Wilson, executive director of South Carolina Equality, married his partner, Shehan Welihindha, originally from Sri Lanka, earlier this year when same-sex marriage became legal in Maryland, Wilson’s home state.

“We were just looking at the marriage certificate on the wall,” Wilson said in an interview on Tuesday. “If DOMA is struck down, that becomes instantly a more legally binding document for us, particularly for Shehan’s immigration purposes.”

On Tuesday, Wilson said that he and Welihindha could begin the immigration sponsorship process for his husband.

“It will mean we can finally stop having to wait for what is next,” Wilson said. “We would definitely move forward with the immigration sponsorship for him.”

Tuesday’s day at the Court did hold one landmark decision, striking down a portion of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The provision, which the Court said is unconstitutional, requires preclearance of redistricting changes in certain jurisdictions across the U.S.

Local LGBT community members spoke out against the decision.

“Organizers with the Charlotte Rainbow Action Network for Equality are extremely disappointed in today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down a portion of the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” the organization said in a statement. “The decision to take away important oversight over voting registration and districting changes opens up more potential for abuse and voter disenfranchisement, especially at a time when lawmakers in North Carolina and across the South are implementing archaic, poll-tax-like voter identification laws, other voting restrictions and race-based redistricting diluting the power and voices of minority voters. All historically disenfranchised groups, particularly people of color, need their constitutional right to vote to to be protected and we call on Congress to act to protect these fundamental rights of citizenship.”

A coalition of national LGBT groups also spoke out on the Voting Rights Act decision. That full statement is available at the end of this article.

Several rallies, demonstrations and meetings have been planned this week in response to the court rulings. They are listed below.

[Ed. Note — This writer is a co-organizer of the rally in Charlotte and a co-founder of the Charlotte Rainbow Action Network for Equality.]

‘Decision Day’ rallies and gatherings

Asheville
Thursday, June 27, 6:30 p.m.
https://www.facebook.com/events/139968389540549/
Campaign for Southern Equality will host an informal potluck gathering to discuss the DOMA and Proposition 8 rulings and how they relate to the South. They’ll also share how you can be a part of the next stage of their WE DO Campaign, taking place in Mississippi in July.

Charlotte
Wednesday, June 26, 5:30 p.m.
Independence Square, Trade & Tryon Sts.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1391956947682909/
CRANE (Charlotte Rainbow Action Network for Equality) will host an awareness rally at Independence Square (Trade & Tryon Sts.) on whichever day the Supreme Court issues its opinion, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Updates from the group on its event page.

Charlotte
Wednesday, June 26, 6 p.m.
HRC North Carolina Marriage Ruling Celebration
Cathode Azure, 1820 South Blvd, Suite 106
https://www.facebook.com/events/124286874448359/

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Columbia
Location/Time TBA
https://www.facebook.com/events/524181280977000/
SC Equality will host an event on the day of decision. Stay tuned to the event page for updates.

Raleigh
Wednesday, June 26, 8 p.m.
Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, 1801 Hillsborough St.
https://www.facebook.com/events/469783326443724
Equality NC will host a Decision Day event. More details to be announced on the event page.

Raleigh
Wednesday, June 26, 9:30 a.m.
Viewing Party
LGBT Center of Raleigh, 411 Hillsborough St.
The LGBT Center of Raleigh will hold a viewing party as the Court releases its opinions. More info at lgbtcenterofraleigh.com.

Wilson
Thursday, June 27, 6-9 p.m.
Golden Corral, Wilson, N.C.
https://www.facebook.com/events/178154609015939/
Democracy North Carolina will hold a dinner meeting with a video presentation.

Winston-Salem
Wednesday, June 26, 6:30 p.m.
Winston Square park Amphitheater
https://www.facebook.com/events/142059522651798/
Stay tuned to event page for event date/day of decision.

National groups on Voting Rights Act

A statement from leading national LGBT organizations on the Supreme Court decision striking down a portion of the Voting Rights Act of 1965:

Today, the Supreme Court struck down a central part of the Voting Rights Act, invalidating crucial protections passed by Congress in 1965 and renewed four times in the decades since. The sharply divided decision will significantly reduce the federal government’s role in overseeing voting laws in areas with a history of discrimination against African-Americans.

We, America’s leading LGBT advocacy organizations, join civil rights organizations – and indeed, all Americans whom this law has served to protect – in expressing acute dismay at today’s ruling. Not only had Congress repeatedly reaffirmed the need for this bedrock civil rights protection, but authoritative voices from across America had filed amicus briefs urging the court not to undermine the law: the NAACP; the American Bar Association; the Navajo Nation; the states of New York, California, Mississippi and North Carolina; numerous former Justice Department officials charged with protecting voting rights; dozens of U.S. senators and representatives; and many others.

These varied and powerful voices attest to the self-evident reality that racial protections are still needed in voting in this country. As recently as last year’s elections, political partisans resorted to voter suppression laws and tactics aimed at reducing the votes of people of color.

Voting rights protections, which have long served our nation’s commitment to equality and justice, should not be cast aside now. The court has done America a grave disservice, and we will work with our coalition partners to undo the damage inflicted by this retrogressive ruling.

Center for Black Equity
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
The Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals
Equality Federation
Family Equality Council
Freedom to Marry
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders
Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)
Human Rights Campaign
Immigration Equality Action Fund
Lambda Legal
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
PFLAG – Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays
Pride at Work, AFL-CIO
Unid@s

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.