Fallout from 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling Against Virginia’s Marriage Amendment
By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
August 1, 2014
Fallout from Monday’s ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals against the Virginia Marriage Protection Amendment continues, as the American Civil Liberties Union announced Tuesday it will head to court immediately to ask a federal judge here to void North Carolina’s Marriage Amendment — a law that the state’s Attorney General has already said he’ll no longer defend.
Tami Fitzgerald, director of the NC Values Coalition, said Monday’s ruling was “a blow to every state in the Fourth Circuit, including North Carolina, because it foreshadows the overthrow of their state Marriage Amendment as well.”
But she also said no one should jump to the conclusion that same-sex marriage is suddenly legal in the Tar Heel state.
“North Carolina’s Marriage Amendment still stands, and no judge has found it unconstitutional,” she said via a press release. “The Registers of Deeds in our State are charged with executing the marriage laws of the State, and any of them who might be tempted to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples should be warned that state law would permit their removal from office and being charged with a crime.”
Passed in 2012 by a margin of 61 to 39 percent, North Carolina’s amendment is facing four lawsuits including the latest one from a group of clergy who say their freedom of religion is being violated because they can’t legally marry same-sex couples. Attorney General Roy Cooper, a vocal advocate of gay marriage, had said he would still work his hardest to defend the amendment. But within a couple of hours after Monday’s opinion of three Fourth Circuit justices was announced, he turned his back on the will of the people and announced that any effort to defend the law would be futile since judges in North Carolina would be bound by the Fourth Circuit ruling.
“Although it’s true that North Carolina is in the Fourth Circuit, that doesn’t mean we need to be so quick to capitulate,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “This Virginia ruling doesn’t even take effect for 21 days, and it will likely be appealed, if not directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, at least to the full appellate court. Plus, Virginia will likely seek a stay in the ruling.”
Furthermore, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has asked the AG not to give up on defending the Marriage Amendment. “To ensure that our laws remain in effect until the final Supreme Court ruling, we call on the Attorney General to request a stay in North Carolina’s pending cases,” said a spokesman from the Governor’s office. Pastors from across the state, including Dr. Creech, had held a press conference earlier this month asking the Governor and Cooper to use any legal means necessary to defend the state’s MPA.
Also, thanks to legislation that was passed last year, Speaker of the House Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg), and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) have the right to intervene whenever the AG refuses to defend a state law. While Sen. Berger told the media there is no plan to respond at this time, he said legislative leadership will respond if it becomes necessary, “we will consider it.”
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