Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office has rejected a motion for
a preliminary injunction challenging the constitutionality of North
Carolina’s discriminatory marriage law. The federal lawsuit was filed
by United Church of Christ in Asheville on behalf of Carol Taylor and Betty Mack,
an elderly same-sex couple, and argued that Amendment One violates
both the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
The Attorney General’s office argued that North Carolina’s marriage laws don’t infringe on the First Amendment rights of the clergy plaintiffs who seek to marry same-sex couples.
“When you’re in your 70’s you don’t feel as if you have a lot of time left. We would really like to be married in North Carolina and become legitimate in the eyes of this state as we would be in many others,” said Betty Mack.
“Betty and I have been together over 41 years and are both in our ‘70s. We want Reverend Ward to be able to marry us able to have the ceremony in North Carolina, surrounded by our family, friends, and faith community,” said Carol Taylor.
In March 2014, a federal court in Tennessee issued a preliminary injunction in a similar marriage case.
A stay is more likely in North Carolina. A stay would mean that all forthcoming proceedings on the case would be halted. North Carolina courts are hesitant to do anything about marriage equality. Two other recent lawsuits in North Carolina, Fisher-Borne v. Smith and Gerber and Berlin v. Cooper were issued a stay.
The Attorney General’s office seems to waiting and watching what happens nationally, with another marriage equality case making its way through the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Fourth Circuit, which covers the mid-Atlantic Southern states, was once considered the most conservative appeals court, but now seems likely to swing in favor of marriage equality.
The Attorney General’s office is set to respond to the complaint,
General Synod of the United Church of Christ vs. Cooper, on June 23rd.
The state’s response to the lawsuit can be found here.