What did the 4th Circuit decision do for same-sex marriage in NC?

What did the 4th Circuit decision do for same-sex marriage in NC?

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor v. United States, same-sex marriage was rekindled as a hot-button topic that has pit civil rights advocates and religious leaders against each other for several months. That’s because Windsor v. United States raised a lot of important questions that needed addressing, such as whether banning same-sex marriage is constitutional or not.

Just like several other states, North Carolina had passed just such a marriage ban back in 2012. Called Amendment One, the measure passed with 61 percent support. But was the ban violating homosexuals’ constitutional rights?

It was a question that rippled through other states with similar marriage bans. But when the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals weighed in on the issue recently, residents here in North Carolina — as well as those states that fell under the jurisdiction of the 4th Circuit Court — finally had an answer.

Although the decision made by the 4th Circuit Court dealt with the same-sex marriage ban in Virginia, the 4th Circuit Court has jurisdiction over our state. This means that some decisions made at this court level can have an impact on decisions in our state’s lower courts. This is what ultimately led to the history-making change to our state’s marriage laws last Friday when U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn in Asheville signed an official order that struck down our state’s same-sex marriage ban.

So how has this change affected family laws in our state? For starters, lifting the ban allowed same-sex couples to start applying for marriage licenses this week. In some counties such as Pamlico, Pitt and Raleigh, marriage licenses have already been issued.

But along with the right to marry also comes the right to divorce, some might argue, which is an issue that still needs to be addressed by the courts. There are also other issues as well — such as child custody and adoption — that need resolution as well, which is a topic we will touch on next week.

Sources: The Charlotte Observer, “Federal judge overturns NC same-sex marriage ban,” Michael Gordon, Oct. 10, 2014

WITN News, “Same-sex couples getting married in Eastern Carolina,” Oct. 14, 2014

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