United Church of Christ wants immediate marriage ruling

Republican leaders in N.C., S.C. want to continue fight

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A new court motion has called once more for an immediate ruling on marriage equality in North Carolina, this time from the United Church of Christ in its case against the state’s anti-LGBT constitutional amendment.

The new motion, filed Tuesday before Asheville U.S. District Court Judge Martin Reidinger could mean the opening of legal marriage equality for LGBT couples sooner than originally expected this week.

“On Tuesday, we asked the U.S. District Court of Western North Carolina to order that marriage equality arrive in North Carolina without delay. Under the Fourth Circuit’s ruling in Bostic v. Schaefer, there is no legal justification for denying North Carolinians the right to marry. It is time to close the book on this chapter in our State’s history,” Jacob Sussman, lead counsel for plaintiffs in General Synod of the United Church of Christ vs. Cooper and a partner at Tin Fulton Walker & Owen, said in a statement..

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Attorney General Roy Cooper has also cleared the way for rulings in three cases, filing briefs in both the United Church of Christ and two Greensboro cases. In them, Cooper and his office said the Fourth Circuit’s July ruling overturning Virginia’s ban holds precedent in North Carolina and no other issues remain for the court to decide.

Greensboro Judge William Osteen had given parties in the case 10 days to file briefs. In addition to Cooper’s brief, attorneys with the ACLU of North Carolina had also called for an immediate ruling.

Cooper had earlier said he would no longer defend the state’s amendment, making the announcement hours after the Fourth Circuit ruled on the Virginia case.

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Republican leaders have said they will continue to fight marriage bans in the Carolinas. In North Carolina, House Speaker Thom Tillis reiterated his position at a U.S. Senate campaign debate with Sen. Kay Hagan.

“We are going to continue to take our case because that’s not been decided yet, but there are other circuits that have not decided,” Tillis said. “Ultimately, we hope that this does go to the Supreme Court.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger has also said he’ll continue to defend the ban. To do so, Berger and Tillis would have to file a motion to intervene in the cases.

In South Carolina, both Gov. Nikki Haley and Attorney General Alan Wilson have said they will continue defending their state’s amendment.

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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.