Supreme Court paves way for N.C. gay marriages

Supreme Court declines to hear marriage cases from five states, including Virginia; Attorneys in N.C. seek immediate rulings; N.C. judge delays for 10 days

This is a developing story. Stay tuned for updates.

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Supreme Court declines to hear LGBT marriage cases: The denials mean marriage can begin soon in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. Legal same-sex marriage was made legal in Virginia at 1 p.m., with a decision on North Carolina’s anti-LGBT marriage amendment coming as soon as in 10 days.

Immediate N.C. rulings sought: The ACLU and others challenging North Carolina’s Amendment One will seek immediate rulings, but the anti-LGBT law still stands for now.

McCrory will support law: North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory says he doesn’t support gay marriage, but “I support our constitution and I am sworn to uphold the laws…and I’ll do just that.”

Greensboro judge needs 10 days: He’s asked all parties involved in lawsuits to submit reports, then he’ll make a ruling.

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past coverage

Virginia marriage ban overturned; Cooper drops defense

The United States Supreme Court declined on Monday to take up several appellate cases on the question of same-sex marriage. The decision means same-sex marriages will be made legal in five states, including in Virginia, North Carolina’s northerly neighbor. A decision on North Carolina’s anti-LGBT marriage amendment could be made in 10 days.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a mandate legalizing same-sex unions in Virginia at 1 p.m. on Monday.

“What a momentous and joyous day for thousands of Virginians,” Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“We also think this paves the way for marriage equality in the entire Fourth Circuit — North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia,” Aaron Sarver, a spokesperson for the Asheville, N.C.-based Campaign for Southern Equality, told qnotes. Sarver’s group is among several suing to overturn North Carolina’s anti-LGBT constitutional amendment, commonly called “Amendment One.”

N.C. advocates want immediate ruling

Currently, four pending federal district court cases are challenging North Carolina’s ban. None have held oral arguments.

“Hopefully, those judges will rule very quickly based on the Fourth Circuit that Amendment One is unconstitutional,” Sarver said.

On Monday, the ACLU of North Carolina called for immediate rulings from the federal district courts.

“The Supreme Court’s decision means that the freedom to marry for same-sex couples must be recognized here in North Carolina without delay,” North Carolina ACLU legal director Chris Brook said in a statement. “We are asking the district court here in North Carolina to immediately issue a ruling striking down North Carolina’s unconstitutional and discriminatory ban on marriage for same-sex couples. Every day that gay and lesbian couples in North Carolina are denied the ability to marry the person they love places their families and children in legal and financial jeopardy. The time has come to end this unfair treatment once and for all and to let our American values of freedom and equality apply to all couples.”

The ACLU of North Carolina said Monday they’ll seek immediate rulings in two cases they have pending with Greensboro federal district court Judge William Osteen. Charlotte attorneys Jake Sussman and Luke Largess, representing the United Church of Christ in its lawsuit against the amendment, have said they’ll also seek an immediate ruling.

Osteen on Monday afternoon put off his decision for 10 days, in the meantime asking parties involved in the lawsuits to submit status reports. In his order, Osteen said the Fourth Circuit’s pro-gay decision in Bostic v. Schaefer and Supreme Court’s actions may require him to overturn North Carolina’s amendment.

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“However,” he wrote, “there are at least two issues that remain for resolution by this court; first, what further action by this court is necessary with respect to those issues arguably resolved by Bostic and second, how this court should proceed with respect to a resolution of the adoption laws at issue in this case.”

The other states immediately affected by Monday’s Supreme Court denial are Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin. Along with the Carolinas, four other states — Colorado, Kansas, West Virginia and Wyoming — should soon rule on marriage equality. They’ll be bound by the affirmative decisions of their appellate courts, bringing legal same-sex marriage to 30 states and the District of Columbia.

McCrory gives in, legislative leaders want fight

Speaking with WSOC-TV on Monday, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said it is only a “matter of time” before North Carolina’s marriage laws will open up to same-sex couples. His legal advisors, he said, have told him to back off.

McCrory also said he doesn’t support gay marriage but, according to WSOC-TV’s Dave Faherty, “I support our constitution and I am sworn to uphold the laws…and I’ll do just that.”

Attorney General Roy Cooper had already backed off the amendment’s defense months ago.

But, North Carolina’s legislative leaders — U.S. Senate candidate and House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger — said they intend to formally intervene in the fight.

Opponents of same-sex marriage were strikingly displeased on Monday. Charlotte First Baptist Church Pastor Mark Harris, who helped lead the amendment drive in 2012, said the courts have made the wrong decision.

“This was 61 percent of the voters of North Carolina,” Harris told WSOC-TV, citing the 2012 amendment ballot results. “For it to simply be cast aside without any fight whatsoever, I think, is appalling.”

N.C. Values Coalition leader Tami Fitzgerald, who helped Harris lead the amendment effort and has undertaken efforts to oppose marriage legalization ever since, was also upset.

“It is outrageous that courts believe they can overturn the biblical meaning of marriage, the will of the people, and the definition that marriage has had throughout history in every culture,” Fitzgerald said in a frantic message to supporters.

This is a developing story. Stay tuned for updates.

 

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer is a staff writer for QNotes. He previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015.