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by Jeff Sykes

Items from across the Triad and beyond

LOCALS WEIGH IN ON MARRIAGE RULING

After the Supreme Court decided not to hear cases in five states and as a result allow same-sex marriage to become legal there, state and local leaders began to weigh in. North Carolina is located in the fourth circuit, which had ruled that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

Lindsey Simerly, a spokeswoman for the Campaign for Southern Equality, said she does not think it will be long until a ruling is issued by a North Carolina trial judge that legalizes same-sex marriage here.

North Carolina must follow the law of the land of the fourth circuit. It’s not an optional thing for the state anymore,” she said.

Simerly said not all states benefited from Monday’s ruling.

“It’s a little bit of a mixed bag because couples in states like Tennessee and Mississippi and Alabama where we worked a lot are being told no,” she said.

Winston-Salem crafted a policy last month in which the city would recognize same sex marriages from other states and extends benefits to same-sex couples. The policy would include medical and dental insurance along with employee assistance, voluntary vision and voluntary long-term care. Employees would also be eligible for sick leave under the Family Medical Leave Act and domestic partners would be eligible for survivorship benefits under a 401(k) or 457 pension. These benefits would take effect January 1, 2015 for couples that meet the 12 criteria set out in the resolution. A number of cities in North Carolina such as Greensboro and Charlotte offer similar policies to employees.

Simerly said she thinks policies like this one will be possible under the ruling.

“My expectation would be that we would start seeing every municipality that grants spousal benefits around health insurance and family medical leave time,” she said. “We’ll start seeing that for all married couples, regardless of the sex of those couples.”

Councilman Derwin Montgomery said he was also optimistic same-sex marriage would happen soon in North Carolina.

“If that does happen in court and it’s ruled unconstitutional and the Supreme Court has already stated that they’re not going to hear that case it may open up the door for same sex marriage in North Carolina,” he said.

CAMPUS ROILED BY STAFF ARRESTS

UNC-Greensboro’s campus was rocked recently by the arrest of three long-time members of the University Relations Department on felony charges of using state equipment for personal gain. The three were also charged with conducting for-profit, private business on state time.

Photographers David Wilson, 38, and Christopher English, 41, were charged with obtaining property by false pretenses. Their supervisor, Lyda Carpen, 48, was also charged with obtaining property by false pretenses. English and Carpen were also charged with aiding and abetting obtaining property by false pretenses for signing time sheets that university authorities allege were falsified. All three were arrested on Sept. 25.

In termination letters released by the university, Carpen is accused of allowing English and Wilson to use state cameras and computers to process photography that they later sold as part of a private business, Artisan Photography Group. The letters say that English and Wilson operated in this fashion “for a sustained period from at least 2010 to 2014.” Carpen is accused of personally profiting from the activity.

The termination letter, signed by Paul Mason, associate vice chancellor for marketing and strategic communication, alleges that Carpen worked on a project for a fee for Artisan Photography Group using university equipment during 2013.

Chancellor Linda Brady sought to tamp down vigorous objections to what many viewed as unnecessary criminal charges stemming from a basic matter of personnel policy violations. In an email to the university community, Brady said campus police seized computers and other equipment and conducted a thorough investigation before presenting evidence to the Guilford County District Attorney.

“The District Attorney’s office reviewed the evidence, determined that there was sufficient evidence to warrant felony charges, and agreed to go forward with prosecution of those charges,” Brady wrote. “{No University administrators provided input or direction to Campus Police or the District Attorney’s office regarding the pursuit of criminal charges.” !

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