Soon after the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday afternoon that Virginia’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper called a press conference to announce that his office will no longer defend his state’s Amendment One against lawsuits.
The amendment, which received 61 percent of the vote when it was on the ballot in 2012, declares that marriage is only legally recognized in North Carolina when it is between a man and a woman.
“Our attorneys have vigorously defended North Carolina’s marriage law, which is their job,” said Cooper. “But today we know our law will almost surely be overturned as well. Simply put, it’s time to stop making arguments we will lose, and instead move forward, knowing that the ultimate resolution will likely come from the United States Supreme Court.”
In a 2-to-1 decision, the 4th Circuit Court called marriage a right guaranteed to all by the U.S. Constitution.
North Carolina is part of the 4th Circuit with Virginia, and Cooper told reporters that North Carolina’s gay marriage ban is likely doomed at this point.
Even so, Cooper said that citizens should not expect North Carolina’s current marriage law to go right away.
“It’s likely that there will be no valid same-sex marriages in North Carolina until the U.S. Supreme Court either turns down the case on appeal, or, ultimately, decides the issue,” said Cooper.
He added that Virginia will almost certainly file for a stay pending appeals. Otherwise, marriage licenses could be issued to same-sex couples in North Carolina 21 days from now.