Skip to comments.AG Roy Cooper Says Federal Decision in VA Could Clear Way for Gay Marriage in North Carolina
Posted on 07/28/2014 11:52:06 PM PDT by nickcarraway
A federal appeals court panel on Monday struck down Virginias ban on same-sex marriage, and that decision could have major political and legal implications for North Carolina.
The three-judge panel on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes North Carolina, declared that Virginias laws placed an unconstitutional limit on the right to marry.
N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper thinks Mondays decision will undo North Carolinas ban on same-sex marriages, and he has no plans to intervene.
Cooper said that it now would be futile to continue defending North Carolinas ban against challenges from within the state. Four cases involving North Carolinas ban are pending now.
Simply put, it is time to stop making arguments we will lose and instead move forward, knowing that the ultimate resolution will likely come from the U.S. Supreme Court, Cooper said in front of a bank of television cameras at his office.
North Carolina voters in 2012 decided by a wide margin to encode a ban on gay marriage into the states constitution. The courts ruling Monday wont immediately affect that.
But the decision means that challenges to North Carolinas ban would likely succeed in lower courts, according to Carl Tobias, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Richmond.
Unless the U.S. Supreme Court reverses Mondays ruling, the judges in those cases will have to declare North Carolinas ban unconstitutional, Tobias said.
Cooper, a Democrat who won his first term as Attorney General in 2000, agrees.
Our office believes the judges in North Carolina are bound by this 4th Circuit decision, he said. In addition, the State of North Carolina will acknowledge the 4th Circuit opinion that marriage is a fundamental right.
Tobias sees that as a pragmatic decision, interpreting Coopers announcement like this: Im not going to drag this out with procedural machinations that are really only that. Weve lost on the merits, is what hes saying.
Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis, both Republicans, questioned Coopers loyalty to voters and his office.
Better than 60 percent of the people of North Carolina voted to have this provision put in our constitution, Berger said in an interview. I think the attorney general should defend the constitution that the people of North Carolina voted for.
Tillis, who is running for U.S. Senate, had similar sentiments.
The people spoke clearly on this issue, he said in a statement. Too many politicians ignore the will of the people, and it is clear that the Attorney General did just that today.
The two politicians last year hired outside lawyers to look over the attorney generals shoulder in gay marriage cases. A bill passed last year also gave them authority to intervene on behalf of the General Assembly in legal challenges of the states laws.
The 2-1 decision by the appeals court Monday upheld a Virginia District Court judges February ruling, which struck down a voter-approved ban on gay marriage. The Virginia ban also forbids recognition of same-sex marriages or civil unions from other states.
Writing for the majority, Judge Henry F. Floyd wrote: The choice of whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individuals life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance.
The decision probably wont allow same-sex marriages in any state anytime soon. The defendants in the Virginia case are expected to request a delay in its effect until the case runs its course.
That conclusion may come at the U.S. Supreme Court, next year at the earliest, but legal observers expect a flurry of action now in the lower-level cases pending in North Carolina and other states throughout the circuit.
In North Carolina, the ACLU and ACLU-North Carolina Legal Foundation have filed two federal lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Greensboro.
The organizations have sued on behalf of three lesbian couples seeking swift legal action to recognize their marriages. One member of each couple has serious health concerns, which they contend are made more difficult by the lack of legal recognition of their unions.
A similarly themed lawsuit, filed in 2012 and amended in 2013, challenged the ban and its effect on how a same-sex couple cared for a child with cerebral palsy.
In April of this year, a group of clergy filed a federal lawsuit contending that the gay marriage ban violated their religious freedoms.
Winning the freedom to marry is no longer a matter of IF, its a matter of WHEN, Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, which advocates for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender North Carolinians, said in a statement after the ruling.
And were close, but were not there yet as today marks a historic first step forward, while we continue to look to the Supreme Court to provide a final, national resolution to this rising call for marriage equality in our home state and beyond.
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia currently recognize same-sex marriages. Dozens of challenges of laws restricting the unions are pending in at least 30 states.
Cooper, who is widely considered to be a possible candidate for governor in 2016, previously has said that he personally supports same-sex marriage but would defend the states laws. He said Monday that he decided not to defend North Carolinas ban because he could make no effective argument in a case that already appears headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Our attorneys have vigorously argued this case every step of the way, he said.
There are really no arguments left to be made.
the States have no sovereignty unless it is granted them by their federal masters.
If you don’t fight and file appeals, you will be stuck with the adverse rulings even if the 4th Circuit is eventually reversed by the Supremes.
The irony is that most gays do not want to get married.
Cooper with visions of being governor of a gay state. The people of the State of NC voted against homosexual marriage. It is part of the State Constitution. It is not “futile” to ignore the 4th Circuit, inasmuch as what challenges there are to the State law require money to challenge them. Quite simple to continue to file briefs to the challenges— there is no court time and this keeps them on the “spend” page.
Cooper is a dem— queer lover with “ass-pirations” of election. Odd bird this one.
Most of the people within a less than 2% population, no less.
“The irony is that most gays do not want to get married.”
“Family” lawyers get richer, homosexuals get poorer.
Time for conservatives to ignore this issue. Let the homosexuals have their governmental civil union licenses; let them try to explain throuples and quartets and multiunions. The true sacrament of Marriage cannot be overcome.
Tyranny never lasts.
An Attorney General who will not defend the state in court. Time for a change. Impeachment NC Republican controlled legislature?
“...Let the homosexuals have their governmental civil union licenses...”
No - never stop fighting for what it right - it is the American way (I should say - used to be)
Maybe this degenerate MF should stop taking his salary if he doesn’t want to do his job
The spineless Cooper has about as much chance being the next governor of NC as I do, nil and none. When he says he “personally” agrees with homosexual “marriage” you know he’s nothing in the world but a spineless, partisan shill for the extreme left-wing of the Godless democrat party.
Everyone who thought that Lawrence v. Texas was a good ruling now has AIDS-infested blood on their hands. This is what happens when you deny the states the right to ban Sodomites: the same Sodomites start campaigning to destroy marriage.
The Constitution does not mention marriage or sodomites. If it is not mentioned in the US Constitution it is left up to the states to decide. That’s the problem with the US Supreme Court; they make up the rules as they see fit. Maybe one day there will be a Republican governor that tells the Feds to go straight to hell. If it’s not in the Constitution it’s the right of the governor of a particular state to run his state as he sees fit, not the robed, unelected tyrants.