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N.C. attorney general to drop state’s defense of same-sex marriage ban

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina represents same-sex plaintiffs in two lawsuits challenging the North Carolina law now pending before a federal judge in Greensboro. Chris Brook, the group’s legal director, agreed that the new ruling means the state’s ban is likely to be overturned.

Attorney General Roy Cooper (R-N.C.)
Attorney General Roy Cooper (D-N.C.)

“This is the 4th Circuit very clearly indicating that marriage bans such as North Carolina’s do not comport with our Constitution’s promise of equality,” Brook said. “We’re reviewing our options right now in light of the 4th Circuit’s very encouraging opinion.”

Cooper’s decision was quickly condemned by Republican officials and groups that campaigned for the amendment approved two years ago. Cooper is widely expected to seek the Democratic nomination to challenge GOP Gov. Pat McCrory in 2016.

“North Carolinians overwhelmingly voted to put the marriage amendment into our state constitution and expect their attorney general to uphold his oath of office by defending that constitution,” said Senate leader Phil Berger Sr., R-Rockingham.

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Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the pro-ban North Carolina Values Coalition, strongly disagreed that it is a forgone conclusion that the law would be overturned.

“It is outrageous that federal judges put themselves in the place of God by seeking to redefine the very institution that He created,” Fitzgerald said.

“Anyone who believes that this decision in Virginia somehow strikes down North Carolina’s Marriage Amendment is wrong. North Carolina’s Marriage Amendment still stands, and no judge has found it unconstitutional,” she said.

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