Same-sex marriage proponents in North Carolina are celebrating today as a federal judge in Asheville declared the ban unconstitutional shortly after a delay in ruling on a similar case in Greensboro. Many consider continued opposition to the one-man one-woman marriage law a lost cause, but allies of traditional marriage are not ready to give up the fight. Emotions run high on both sides of the debate, as courts in states across the nation are engaged in hot debate over the question of gay marriage in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to decline to hear any of the appeals, throwing the issue back to the states.
Judicial rulings across the nation this year seem to be turning the tide of support for gay and lesbian couples to the point that experts express settled confidence in the outcome of the cases. Cornell Law School’s constitutional expert Michael C. Dorf is convinced that their opponents are “virtually guaranteed to lose.” Others characterize the battle as all but over and denounce the continued resistance as a lost cause in dozens of similar cases are in progress in every state that has not already legalized same-sex marriage .
The controversy heats up tension as the states are divided in how to address the issue. While Idaho, Nevada, and North Carolina have joined the ranks of states declaring the bans unconstitutional and legalizing same-sex marriage, Ohio and Kansas are still in conflict over the hot button topic. Some states are upholding their bans, while others are delaying implementation or overturning them altogether, allowing gay and lesbian couples to flock to courthouses for marriage licenses and ceremonies.
In North Carolina, Republican Speaker Thom Tillis and Sen. Phil Berger had requested a delay until Oct. 17 to prepare further arguments in a same-sex marriage case in Greensboro. However, U.S. District Judge William Osteen was unconvinced by their petition for more time and gave them until noon Friday, Oct. 10 to file a motion to intervene in the same-sex marriage case. He rejected their appeal for oral argumentation and ordered a 3:00 p.m. deadline for written responsive briefs to be filed on Monday. Shortly after his delay, Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr., of the U.S. District Court in Asheville, struck down the state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, passed by voters in 2012, calling it unconstitutional.
Today’s developments in North Carolina notwithstanding, the fervor on both sides and the ongoing dispute over the sensitive issue will keep lawyers in courts nationwide arguing passionately for legal protection for their definition of marriage for some time to come. National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown, avowed defender of traditional marriage and family, vowed to push for a states’ rights constitutional amendment that leaves it up to the states to ban or allow same-sex marriage. Although the conservative viewpoint is vilified by some organizations as homophobic and hate-filled, religious leaders encourage their congregations to respond with love to the gay and lesbian community. Public policy chief of the Southern Baptist Convention, Russell Moore recognizes that a long-term campaign of “cultural persuasion” will be a more effective strategy than hate in turning the tide of the same-sex marriage debate raging coast to coast.
by Tamara Christine Van Hooser
Kansas City Star