Supreme Court ruling may open door to gay marriage in NC

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USA Today reports that the U.S. Supreme Court “refused to get involved in the national debate over same-sex marriage” today, Oct. 6, “leaving intact lower court rulings that will eventually lead to legalizing the practice in 11 additional states.” North Carolina is one of those states, and, the News & Observer in Raleigh reports,  “The U.S Supreme Court’s decision not to review appeals court rulings from seven states striking down gay-marriage bans could make it possible for same-sex couples to wed in North Carolina by the end of the week.”

Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger said in a press release that he would uphold the current state law, which bans same-sex marriage, but “As soon as the laws formally change to allow same-sex marriage in North Carolina, like they have today in Virginia, we will adapt our practices accordingly.”

North Carolina falls under the jurisdiction of the Us. Fourth Circuit of Appeals, which struck down Virginia’s ban earlier this year.

The Supreme’s Court’s decision, in effect, upholds appeals courts rulings that struck down bans against gay marriage in five states — Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Utah. Same-sex marriages may start immediately in those states. The Supreme Court decision also opens the door for same-sex unions in other states — North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming.

Equality NC — an LGBT advocacy organization — responded to the ruling:

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court makes legally binding five favorable marriage rulings reached in three federal appellate courts, including the 4th Circuit, and opens the door for the freedom to marry for millions more Americans across the country and in North Carolina,” said Equality NC’s Executive Director Chris Sgro. “As marriages begin immediately in Indiana, Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin, and with marriage equality now the law of the land across our 4th Circuit, we look to federal judges in the four cases pending against North Carolina’s ban on the freedom to marry to make a swift and unequivocal ruling in support of marriage equality in the state we call home.”

And Reisinger said further in his statement:

“My staff and I welcome this opportunity to serve those who have waited their lifetimes for this recognition of their constitutional rights,” said Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger. “We have prepared in order to be ready to best serve the public when same-sex marriage becomes legal in North Carolina.”
But Claude Pope, N.C.’s Republican party chairman, said  “time will tell,” the News & Observer reported: “The marriage amendment here passed overwhelmingly. … So it’s a little disappointing to see such a mandate by the people get overturned at the higher court level.”
Meanwhile, Casey Blake of the Asheville Citizen-Times reports:

Roger Hartley, a political science professor at Western Carolina University, said the only move that could stop legal same-sex marriages in North Carolina is a ruling from the 4th Circuit saying its decision only applies in Virginia. … “I think a smart person could argue right now that Amendment One is done,” he said.”


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About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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