Gay Marriage

Chad Biggs (left), 35, and Chris Creech, 46, were the first gay couple to be wed in Wake County.
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

Three North Carolina couples have filed a suit challenging a state law that allows court officials to opt out of same-sex weddings for religious reasons, arguing the legislation illegally uses taxpayer money to favor a religious point of view and is intended to discriminate against a group.

Chad Biggs (left), 35, and Chris Creech, 46, were the first gay couple to be wed in Wake County.
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

In a 5-4 ruling today, the U.S. Supreme Court said all 50 states must recognize marriages between same-sex couples. The decision also means those couples can now get married anywhere and have their marriages recognized in all states.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the decision for the majority. Each dissenting justice also wrote his own opinion.

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC capitol bureau chief Jeff Tiberii about this morning's ruling.

Chad Biggs (left), 35, and Chris Creech, 46, were the first gay couple to be wed in Wake County.
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

The N.C. House of Representatives voted Thursday to override Gov. Pat McCrory's veto of Senate Bill 2, though no real debate was allowed. 

The bill - which is now law - permits magistrates and county register of deeds employees to exempt themselves from offering same-sex marriage duties because of "sincerely held religious" objections. 

Pat McCrory
Dave DeWitt

Gov. Pat McCrory vetoed two bills this week that stirred controversy as they passed through the state legislature. 

House Bill 405- dubbed by opponents as an "ag-gag" bill- would have allowed businesses to sue employees who secretly recorded animal abuse or other illegal activity. The bill applied to farms, along with businesses like restaurants and daycare centers.

Governor Pat McCrory
Hal Goodtree / Flickr Creative Commons

Post updated: 3:55 p.m.

Gov. Pat McCrory says he will veto Senate Bill 2. In an email, McCroy said he plans to stop a plan to give magistrates the ability to opt out of performing weddings based on strongly held religious beliefs.

Opponents of the measure have called it a pathway to descrimination of same-sex couples. Supporters call it a religious freedom measure. McCrory's announcement comes just hours after state lawmakers approved the bill.

Photo: Craig Johnson (left) and Shawn Long (center) with their son Isaiah Johnson.
Equality NC

North Carolina lawmakers pushed through two of the year’s most controversial measures on Wednesday afternoon, limiting debate and quickly ushering proposals that could reduce some same-sex couples’ access to marriage ceremonies and extend the waiting period for abortion procedures.

While House and Senate members debated in separate hearings, the measures over gay marriage and abortions are intertwined social issues that attract vigorous advocacy from conservative and liberal groups.

Rev. Gil Caldwell (far right) with Martin Luther King, Jr.
truthinprogress.com

In 2007, Methodist Reverend Frank Schaefer performed the marriage service for his son Tim's wedding.

The seemingly routine action dramatically altered Schaefer's career because the same-sex union was prohibited by the church. Schaefer’s performance of marriage vows put him at the center of a controversy. He was stripped of his credentials but after a trial, the defrocking was overturned.

Gov. Pat McCrory
Governor's Office

Gov. Pat McCrory said on Monday that he won’t sign a state Senate plan to allow court officials who oppose gay marriage for religious reasons to recuse themselves from officiating at weddings.
 

McCrory will not sign Senate Bill 2, which would allow magistrates to recuse themselves from officiating at any wedding, if it's approved by the House of Representatives, because it would conflict with federal court rulings that in October struck down North Carolina’s constitutional ban on gay marriage, he said.

Reema Khrais

A state House judiciary committee heard public comment Wednesday on a bill that would allow magistrates and registers of deeds to opt-out of performing marriages altogether if they are opposed to same-sex unions for religious reasons. 

Senate Bill 2 quickly passed in the Senate last week and is now before the House for consideration. At Wednesday’s meeting, a group of House lawmakers heard from nine members of the public, most who oppose the legislation.

Chad Biggs (left), 35, and Chris Creech, 46, were the first gay couple to be wed in Wake County.
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

The North Carolina Senate approved on Wednesday a plan to allow magistrate judges who oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds to refuse to preside over any wedding.

The proposed legislation, which passed on a mostly party-line 82 to 16 vote, is a direct response to federal court rulings in October of 2014 that struck down North Carolina’s constitutional ban on same-sex unions.   

Shana Carignan (left) and Megan Parker with Jax
North Carolina ACLU

A North Carolina legislative panel has approved a Republican plan that would allow magistrate judges to recuse themselves from officiating any weddings if they have a faith-based opposition to same-sex unions.

The bill, introduced by Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden), was passed on what appeared to be a mostly party-line vote in a Senate Judiciary Committee this morning.

The North Carolina General Assembly is back to work in Raleigh and lawmakers are filing dozens of bills.

rainbow flag
Ted via Flickr/Creative Commons

At the North Carolina State Legislature, Senate Leader Phil Berger introduced a bill Wednesday that would allow magistrates across North Carolina to opt-out of performing same-sex marriages. He wants government officials such as magistrates and registers of deeds, who object to same-sex marriage, to receive protection.

In The Sunday Conversation, Weekend Edition Sunday brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.

Allan Edwards is the pastor of Kiski Valley Presbyterian Church in western Pennsylvania, a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America. He's attracted to men, but he considers acting on that attraction a sin. Accordingly, Edwards has chosen not to act on it.

Book by Mark Achteimeier. WJK Press/2014
WJK Press

  

Theologian and pastor Mark Achtemeier led the movement to prohibit gays and lesbians from becoming ordained in the Presbyterian church in the 1990s. His opposition to homosexuality was firmly rooted in his Christian faith and his interpretation of Biblical teachings. He succeeded and the Church banned the gay ordination in 1997. Just a few years later, he developed a friendship with a gay man in a committed relationship and Achtemeier began to question his beliefs. After reexamining the scriptures, he concluded there is a Biblical basis for supporting same sex couples. Now he leads the movement for inclusion in the Presbyterian Church.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Mark Achtemeier, theologian, pastor and author of The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage (WJK Press/2014).

Greensboro skyline
Scott Moore, Flickr, Creative Commons

    

With three weeks left before Election Day, candidates for North Carolina's 6th House district are making their final pushes.

Republican Mark Walker and Democrat Laura Fjeld have agreed to two debates in the next two weeks. The winner will fill the seat vacated by Congressman Howard Coble who represented the district for nearly 30 years.

Meanwhile, some faculty and staff at UNC-Greensboro are questioning the judgment of administrators after three employees were fired and arrested on charges of falsifying time sheets for freelance work.

Gov. Pat McCrory says he's glad the court battle over gay marriage is finished.

U.S. District Court Judge Max Cogburn, Jr. from Asheville overturned the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage late Friday.

McCrory was in Chapel Hill yesterday at UNC's University Day Celebration. The Republican told Carolina Connection he'll uphold the right for gay North Carolinians to marry.

Nancy Ruth Best and Wynolia Apple plan to get married next Sunday after being together for 23 years.
Reema Khrais

Same-sex couples are expected to head to Register of Deeds offices across the state today to get marriage licenses. A federal judge overturned the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage late Friday.

That case was filed by a group of clergy members. They argued that not being able to marry gay couples violated their freedom of religion. This weekend, many churches celebrated the decision, including Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Durham.

Chantelle and Marcie Fisher-Borne and family
Jorge Valencia

Craig Johnson and Shawn Long are being cautious. The U.S. Supreme Court's refusal on Monday to hear five pending same-sex marriage cases could possibly lead to gay marriage in North Carolina -- if a federal judge in Greensboro issues an order for it.

Still, Johnson and Long are making plans. If they are allowed to marry, they plan to do it quickly, and not waste time making elaborate plans.

Photo: The U.S. Supreme Court building
Flickr user Sno Shuu

A federal judge in Greensboro could clear the way for gay marriage in North Carolina, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal on Monday to hear five pending same-sex marriage cases.

Middle District Court Judge William Osteen, who has the authority to order North Carolina to allow same-sex unions, said on Monday that he wanted to hear from both parties in a case challenging the state’s constitutional Amendment One, defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Jane Blackburn and Lyn McCoy speak at an ACLU news conference.
Carol Jackson

ACLU attorneys challenging the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in North Carolina plan to ask a U.S. District Court judge in Greensboro for swift resolution of the issue. This comes after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit struck down Virginia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage on Monday. Since that court has jurisdiction over North Carolina, supporters of same-sex marriage here say it’s only a matter of time before this state’s ban crumbles as well.

Shana Carignan (left) and Megan Parker with Jax
North Carolina ACLU

Some are saying it could be a matter of weeks before North Carolina's ban on same sex marriage is overturned. A ruling in the 4th Circuit court in Richmond Monday declared Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. That ruling is binding on the entire 4th circuit, which includes North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Maryland.

Neil Siegel is a professor of law at Duke University. He says assuming the case is not retried, the outlook for North Carolina's ban is rather clear:

    

Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara is an ordained minister and published author who uses her faith work and fiction writing to create new strategies for supporting LGBT communities in the South. 

Bishop Gene Robinson says he and his husband, Mark Andrew, are getting a divorce. The first openly gay Episcopal bishop, Robinson retired last year, a decade after his election alienated many conservative Anglicans.

The pair had been together for 25 years. Robinson disclosed the divorce this weekend, in an email to the Diocese of New Hampshire and in a column for The Daily Beast in which he wrote:

Shana Carignan (left) and Megan Parker with Jax
North Carolina ACLU

The national and state ACLU have filed lawsuits in federal district court in Greensboro, asking a judge to block the state's marriage amendment.
 

The ACLU has asked for a preliminary injunction to prevent Amendment One from remaining in effect for one of the families in a pre-existing lawsuit seeking to overturn the state's ban on same-sex marriage. It's also filing a separate lawsuit on behalf of three other same-sex couples in the state. Chris Brook is the legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina.

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