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Same-Sex Marriages in North Carolina Could Be Underway in Days: "Not if But When"

Photo: Attorney Annika Brock and her partner Elaine Potter of Asheville were married last year in Vermont, but say they are looking forward to having their marriage recognized by their home state. Photo courtesy: Annika Brock.
Photo: Attorney Annika Brock and her partner Elaine Potter of Asheville were married last year in Vermont, but say they are looking forward to having their marriage recognized by their home state. Photo courtesy: Annika Brock.
October 7, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. - With the U.S. Supreme Court opting not to review appeals court rulings in seven states regarding same-sex marriage bans, groups like the ACLU and Equality N.C. say legally recognized same-sex marriages could happen in North Carolina in a matter of days.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision means all current rulings stand, and the states in their jurisdiction, including North Carolina, must comply with the law and recognize the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality N.C. says he expects things to "move fast" after Monday's announcement.

"It's at this inevitable point this will be the law of the land, so it's not a question of if but when," says Sgro. "Even that 'when' is going to be pretty much fast-tracked."

Sgro says the federal bench in North Carolina has asked for briefing materials within 10 days, but is bound by the decision of the Fourth Circuit. The federal court would then have to issue a written order declaring the amendment North Carolina voters passed in 2012 defining marriage in the state as being between one man and one woman to be unconstitutional.

Attorney Annika Brock of Asheville married her partner of nine years last year in Vermont, but Monday's announcement is welcome news for her.

"First of all, I can't wait for the first couple to apply for a marriage license in North Carolina," she says. "But for us, it's a matter of North Carolina recognizing our marriage."

Brock says progress still needs to be made before same-sex couples have equal protection under the law.

"We still have a long way to go in a lot of different ways," says Brock. "There are still so many things that will take a while. Blue Cross Blue Shield won't recognize my spouse, even though we're married in another state."

Some in the legal community say there's still a chance the U.S. Supreme Court will have to weigh in on the issue if federal courts disagree, but for now the state's same-sex couples stand to have their marriages recognized by state law.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC