CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Leaders with a statewide LGBT advocacy group and couples gathered at North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s three offices across the state this morning. At each office, the group delivered some 12,000 petitions calling on McCrory to drop the defense of North Carolina’s anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment.
“We each deserve to know where he stands,” said Equality North Carolina Executive Director Chris Sgro, who helped deliver a portion of the 12,000 petitions to McCrory’s Charlotte office. “It’s been two years since the amendment vote. It’s incumbent upon the governor not to waste taxpayer dollars. This is a place where he has executive authority.”
Petitions were also delivered to McCrory’s Asheville office and his office at the North Carolina State Capitol in Raleigh.
North Carolina’s amendment will almost certainly be found unconstitutional in a series of U.S. district court challenges currently pending in the state. Four cases are challenging the law, and state Attorney General Roy Cooper has said he’ll no longer defend the ban. Cooper’s announcement came the same day the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Virginia’s similar ban unconstitutional.
State lawmakers recently passed a law giving legislative leaders the power to intervene in such cases on behalf of the state. But, Equality North Carolina points out that the governor has always had that authority.
“The governor is the primary person who has standing,” Sgro said. “We all deserve to know where he stands.”
It’s still unknown whether legislative leaders will step in to defend the ban in the four North Carolina cases in Greensboro, Charlotte and Asheville.
McCrory’s deputy communications director, Ryan Tronovitch, responded to a request for comment on the petitions later Wednesday afternoon. He pointed toward his statement issued in the aftermath of the Fourth Circuit decision.
“This issue will ultimately be decided by the United States Supreme Court,” Tronovitch said. “As of now, North Carolina’s marriage amendment remains in full force and effect. To ensure that our laws remain in effect until the final Supreme Court ruling, we call on the Attorney General to request a stay in North Carolina’s pending cases.”
Equality North Carolina had expected to deliver at least 10,000 petitions on Wednesday morning. They said they were pleased to have exceeded their goal. The engagement on the petition drive, they said, was higher than other state LGBT advocacy groups which undertook similar petition efforts.
Sgro isn’t surprised by the increased engagement. He said LGBT North Carolinians and their families and friends are paying attention — their motivation for changed driven by recent events.
“This has been such a prescient issue, with the Fourth Circuit’s ruling and Cooper’s statement,” Sgro said.
In Charlotte, Equality North Carolina was accompanied by several couples, including Bishop Tonyia Rawls of Sacred Souls Community Church and the Freedom Center for Social Justice. She and her wife, Gwen Rawls, have been a couple for 15 years. They legally married in California in 2008, but their marriage isn’t recognized in North Carolina.