The U.S. Supreme Court responded today, Aug. 20, to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision last month to strike down a same-sex marriage ban by issuing a stay that bars the practice pending further action by the court.
The move is a disappointment to equality advocates who hoped that today’s deadline would pass without any action from the Supreme Court. If that had happened, same-sex couples would’ve been legally allowed to apply for marriage licenses in North Carolina beginning tomorrow. Instead, the Supreme Court’s move preserves the status quo until it takes up an applicable marriage equality case.
In 2012, North Carolina voters approved Amendment One by a margin of 61 percent, which added language banning gay marriage to the state constitution. But last month in response to the Fourth Circuit Court ruling, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said his office will no longer defend the ban. Multiple federal challenges to Amendment One continue to make 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.
In response to the Aug. 20 stay issued by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Campaign for Southern Equality, a local LGBT advocacy organization, released the following statement:
Asheville, N.C. (August , 2014) — The U.S. Supreme Court has responded to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and issued a stay in the Bostic case. This means that couples in the Virginias and the Carolinas cannot immediately exercise their fundamental right to marry as recognized by the Fourth Circuit.
We are disappointed in today’s action taken by the Court. Every day that same-sex couples in the 4th Circuit – and across the country – are not able to marry, LGBT families are harmed.
But we remain hopeful that the Supreme Court will take up a marriage equality case in short order. As many legal experts have speculated, we could even see a 50-state ruling as soon as June of 2015. Advocates on both sides have petitioned the Supreme Court for a ruling that would settle the issue.
In every single case heard by a federal judge since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision striking down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act, federal judges have ruled that marriage is a fundamental right that can’t be denied to same-sex couples. We are confident that marriage equality will be a reality in the South – it’s a question of when, not if.
Based in the South, 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.