The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals’ July 28 ruling to strike down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage could have implications for North Carolina’s Amendment One, according to the Campaign for Southern Equality.
North Carolina voters approved the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2012. Multiple federal challenges to Amendment One are currently making their way through the courts, including General Synod of the United Church of Christ vs. Cooper, which includes several plaintiffs from WNC challenging the ban on religious freedom grounds.
The Campaign for Southern Equality, a local LGBT advocacy group, will have a meeting today, July 28, to “discuss what that ruling means for states in the 4th Circuit and prepare for Day One of marriage equality in North Carolina,” according to a Facebook post. It will be held at First Congregational UCC (20 Oak Street in downtown Asheville) at 6 p.m.
UPDATE: At a 4 p.m. press conference on July 28, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said the state will no longer defend its ban on gay marriage after the 4th Circuit court’s ruling. “It’s time to stop making arguments we will lose,” he said. “There are no more arguments left to be made.”
UPDATE: Here’s more on the implications for North Carolina from the Raleigh News & Observer:
“Our office believes the judges in North Carolina are bound by this 4th Circuit decision,” he said. “In addition, the State of North Carolina will acknowledge the 4th Circuit opinion that marriage is a fundamental right.”
… The decision probably won’t allow same-sex marriages in any state anytime soon. The defendants in the Virginia case are expected to request a delay in its effect until the case runs its course.
That conclusion may come at the U.S. Supreme Court, next year at the earliest, but legal observers expect a flurry of action now in the lower-level cases pending in North Carolina and other states throughout the circuit. …
Cooper, who is widely considered to be a possible candidate for governor in 2016, previously has said that he personally supports same-sex marriage but would defend the state’s laws. He said Monday that he decided not to defend North Carolina’s ban because he could make no effective argument in a case that already appears headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Here’s the Campaign for Southern Equality’s statement on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling:
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today in Bostic v. Schaefer. The three judge panel upheld the decision to strike down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. The ruling paves the way for Amendment One to be struck down in North Carolina.
“Today’s ruling is further proof that there is not a single valid legal argument to uphold Amendment One. It’s not a question of if Amendment One will be struck down, but when. Each day that North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage remains on the books, families are harmed. The Campaign for Southern Equality will continue to call for swift action from the courts to overturn Amendment One, and for citizens and elected officials to take a stand against this discriminatory and immoral law,” said Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.
“Federal courts in recent months have made clear – emphatically and unequivocally – that it is unconstitutional for state governments to discriminate against loving and committed couples who want the benefits and security that marriage provides,” said Jacob Sussman, lead counsel for plaintiffs in General Synod of the United Church of Christ vs. Cooper and partner at Tin Fulton Walker & Owen.
You can read the full Bostic v. Schaefer ruling at: http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/141167.P.pdf
In North Carolina, multiple federal challenges to Amendment One are working their way through the courts. The focus now returns to General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Cooper, a
federal legal challenge to North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage filed in the Western District of North Carolina. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include same-sex couples and four national religious denominations – the United Church of Christ, the Alliance of Baptists, the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists and the Central Conference of American Rabbis – in addition to Episcopalian, Jewish and Baptist clergy from across North Carolina. Plaintiffs are seeking a preliminary injunction in the case and are represented by the law firms of Tin Fulton Walker & Owen and Arnold & Porter LLP.
The Campaign for Southern Equality, which promotes LGBT equality across the South, is coordinating a public education campaign accompanying the case. Supporting documents and profiles of the Plaintiffs in General Synod of the UCC v. Cooper can be found at http://www.amendmentonechallenge.org. The Campaign for Southern Equality is a national effort to assert the full humanity and equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in American life and to increase public support for LGBT rights.