NC gay marriage advocates happy, though it’s not clear how court ruling will affect state

cowens@newsobserver.com jspector@newsobserver.comJune 27, 2013 

Though advocates of same-sex marriage in North Carolina drew encouragement from Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision, it may not lead to immediate changes in the state.

The decision does not overturn the state law barring same-sex marriages, nor the state constitutional amendment approved last year.

But Stuart Campbell, executive director of the gay advocacy group Equality NC, said the ruling amounts to a moral victory.

“What this decision does is provide encouragement to all gays and lesbians in North Carolina and the country as a whole,” Campbell said. “What the tangible impact will be for states like North Carolina remains to be seen.”

North Carolina added a same-sex marriage ban to the state constitution after voters approved the much-debated amendment in spring 2012. John Rustin, president of the NC Family Policy Council, which opposes same-sex marriage, said he is glad North Carolina’s amendment is still on the books.

“We are heartened by the fact that these two opinions do not impact the state of marriage in North Carolina based on the marriage protection amendment that was passed last year by 61 percent of voters,” Rustin said.

The margin of support for the referendum last year dealt a psychological blow to LGBT activists, said Lorraine Johnson of Apex.

“We put so much effort into Amendment One and just got slammed – it just hurt so much and a lot of people wanted to throw in the towel,” she said. “This (ruling) gives people a reason to be re-energized and to say this is not over by a long shot.”

Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh expressed “grave disappointment” with the Supreme Court’s ruling, which he said did not respect the truth of marriage as the sacred union between a man and a woman for life. He said the current ruling would not force the Church to adopt a new stance on marriage.

“The federal government can give any definition of marriage they want,” Burbidge said. “It will not change what we will teach.”

State Rep. Marcus Brandon, the only openly gay member of North Carolina’s General Assembly, applauded the Court’s decision. He said it will only be a matter of time before a majority of North Carolinians support gay marriage.

Meanwhile, members of North Carolina’s LGBT community will have a different “morning after” than last year following the amendment vote.

“Tomorrow morning,” he said, referring to the state’s LGBT youth, “they will wake up and know at least their federal government knows they are 100 percent people.”

Owens: 919-829-4567

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