Supreme Court clears the way for marriage rights for same-sex couples in North Carolina

by Jeff Sykes

The US Supreme Court today declined to review appeals court rulings that struck down bans on same-sex marriage in five states, thus opening the way for a large expansion of marriage rights.

Significant locally is that North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage would be unconstitutional once the ruling takes effect. A case in Virginia was the subject of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in July that struck down that state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples.

Once that ruling becomes law, it would automatically be federal law in all states within the Fourth Circuit, including North Carolina.

Virginia’s attorney general announced that same-sex marriages would begin at 1p.m. today.

The Fourth Circuit includes Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The ruling would overturn same-sex marriage bans in four states in the Fourth Circuit.

The ACLU of North Carolina has multiple challenges before federal district courts in the state challenging the constitutional ban on marriage for same sex couples passed in May 2012.

“The Supreme Court’s decision means that the freedom to marry for same-sex couples must be recognized here in North Carolina without delay,” said Chris Brook, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina. “We are asking the district court here in North Carolina to immediately issue a ruling striking down North Carolina’s unconstitutional and discriminatory ban on marriage for same-sex couples. Every day that gay and lesbian couples in North Carolina are denied the ability to marry the person they love places their families and children in legal and financial jeopardy. The time has come to end this unfair treatment once and for all and to let our American values of freedom and equality apply to all couples.”