RALEIGH – This morning the U.S. Supreme Court announced that the Fourteenth Amendment meant that states must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and must recognize licenses issued in other states. The historic case, Obergefell v. Hodges, now makes the gay marriage bans in thirteen states unconstitutional.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has declared war on marriage, children, and religious freedom in the United States, and rather than repair a rift, this opinion is going to ignite a fire across our land,” said John L. Rustin, President of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “The Supreme Court did not change the true and fundamental definition of ‘life’ in Roe v. Wade, and it will not change the true and fundamental definition of ‘marriage’ in Obergefell v. Hodges. ‘Truth’ remains ‘Truth,’ regardless of another misguided opinion that has been handed down by this court.”
Supporters of gay marriage are claiming victory, having waged a ground war for years on the issue.
In 2012 a massive campaign ended with North Carolina voters passing a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as being between a man and woman. In October 2014, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled that denying marriage rights to gay couples was unconstitutional.
“This is obviously an historic day for the entire country,” said Chris Sgro, Executive Director for Equality NC. “We are excited to finally have resolution to the question of whether same-sex couples have the freedom to marry, and yes, it is a constitutional right.”
The ruling follows contentious debate in North Carolina over Senate Bill 2, a law that allows state employees to recuse themselves from performing all marriages for religious reasons. The General Assembly recently voted to override a gubernatorial veto of the measure.
“The majority of North Carolina voters who define marriage as between one man and one woman deserved a final resolution from the Supreme Court. While this decision is disappointing, we respect the ruling and will continue to work to ensure North Carolina complies with the law of the land,” House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said in a joint statement issued this morning.
Bill sponsors say Senate Bill 2 allows the state to issue gay marriage licenses while making reasonable accommodations for magistrates’ religious beliefs, in accordance with Federal civil rights laws. Opponents, including Governor McCrory, say that magistrates are bound to deliver state services regardless of their personal religious beliefs. While he vetoed the bill, McCrory said he still opposed gay marriage.
“This decision indicates how out of touch the General Assembly is when they pass discriminatory laws like Senate Bill 2,” said Sgro. “North Carolina is still one of 31 states where you can be fired or denied housing because of who you are. We won’t stop fighting until we have full equality for LGBT North Carolinians.”