North Carolina Abandons Defense Of Same-Sex Marriage Ban

CREDIT: AP Photo/Adam Jennings

Same-sex couples marched in Ashville, NC last October before a protest where they requested marriage licenses they knew they would not be issued.

Following Monday’s decision by the Fourth Circuit overturning Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) has abandoned his defense of his state’s ban, calling it a “futile” cause.

“I have concluded that the State of North Carolina will not oppose the cases moving forward,” he said in a statement. “In addition, the State of North Carolina will acknowledge the 4th Circuit opinion that marriage is a fundamental right and that our office believes that the judges are bound by this 4th Circuit decision.” Given federal courts have consistently rejected all of the arguments against same-sex marriage, he concluded, “it’s time for the State of North Carolina to stop making them.”

North Carolina was the very last state to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and other unions, with voters approving the measure just back in 2012.

West Virginia and South Carolina are two other states defending same-sex marriage bans impacted by the Fourth Circuit ruling. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) has not made any comments except to say that the state’s marriage ban is still in effect.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson (R), on the other hand, was as adamant as ever about defending his state’s ban. Spokesman Mark Powell said Monday that there was no need to change course because the U.S. Supreme Court will make the final decision: “People should not rush to act or react until that time — when a decision is made by the highest court in the land.”

The Fourth Circuit’s decision was the third marriage equality ruling by a federal appeals court since the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision last year. The Tenth Circuit similarly ruled against bans in Utah and Oklahoma. There have been over two dozen state and federal court rulings over the past year, unanimously in favor of marriage equality.