News

After last night’s historic ruling legalizing same-sex marriages in North Carolina, one county register of deeds says the McCrory administration unnecessarily delayed releasing gender-neutral marriage license forms.

Wake Register of Deeds Laura Riddick (photo from Riddick's office)

Wake Register of Deeds Laura Riddick (Photo from Riddick’s office)

Laura Riddick, a Republican first elected to county office in 1996, released a statement Friday saying that the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services refused her earlier requests for a copy of an existing gender-neural marriage license. DHHS is led by Aldona Wos, a Greensboro physician and wealthy Republican fundraiser appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory in January 2013.

Riddick kept her office open until after 9 p.m. Friday evening to issue marriage licenses after U.S. District Court Judge Max Cogburn Jr.’s order at around 5:30 p.m. that night declaring North Carolina’s ban on gay marriages unconstitutional.

Some of the first legal gay couples to marry in the state did outside Riddick’s office, including Wake County Sheriff Department employees Chad Briggs and Chris Creech who exchanged their vows as local news stations broadcast the union on live television.

Riddick, along with other Registers of Deeds across the state, hoped to have her department’s computer systems updated and ready when the expected federal court order legalizing same-sex marriages came down. (Click here for background on issue.)

DHHS withholding the form was “neither justified nor professional,” Riddick said in a statement.

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Commentary

Gay marriage 3Same-sex couple are marrying tonight in the Old North State. And what a marvelous triumph it is for the forces of love, tolerance and progress over those of hate, discrimination and backwardness. Hallelujah!

It’s also a moment in which it’s hard not to take note of the fact that with this momentous change, a prediction of one of the chief architects and defenders of the old, discriminatory law, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, came true — just a little early.

As you will recall it was in the spring of 2012 — just weeks before Amendment One was passed by voters during a primary election and while he was campaigning for it — that House Speaker Tillis predicted the Amendment’s ultimate demise:

“If it passes, I think it will be repealed within 20 years,” Tillis said.

As it turned out the repeal came in just 29 months and Tillis, who always seemed weirdly unconvincing in his support of the Amendment (perhaps even as he was cynically trying to stand in the courthouse door to block same-sex couples from gaining equality this week) is left to consider the ruins of one of his signature “accomplishments” as a state leader.

In a way, it’s seems somewhat fitting that things happened this way and at this moment in time in the state’s political history. A long, dark era in state history came crashing down today. Perhaps it will be just the start of several dramatic turnarounds for the state as supporters of change and modernity finally take note of their own power and move rapidly to send the purveyors of fear and reaction into forced retirement.

News

Shortly after Judge Osteen gave plaintiffs until Monday to respond to intervention of legislative leaders in one same-sex marriage case in Greensboro, a federal judge in the Western District struck down a same-sex marriage ban in a case brought by the United Church of Christ and has denied legislative leaders’ request for intervention. QNotes reports:

A federal judge in North Carolina’s Western District has issued an order permanently prohibiting defendants in a United Church of Christ lawsuit against North Carolina’s anti-LGBT amendment from enforcing the ban. Additionally, the judge denied Republican state leaders’ motion to intervene in the case.

U.S. District Court Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr., issued his two orders shortly after 5 p.m.

“Defendants are PERMANENTLY ENJOINED from enforcing such laws to the extent these laws prohibit a person from marrying another person of the same gender, prohibit recognition of same-sex marriages lawfully solemnized in other States, Territories, or a District of the United States, or seek to punish in any way clergy or other officiants who solemnize the union of same-sex couples,” Cogburn wrote.

More from QNotes

From WRAL

Equality NC has information for LGBTQ couples looking to get married here: http://equalitync.org/marriage/dayone/

News

U.S. District Court Judge William Osteen Jr. has given N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper and attorneys representing same-sex couples until 3 p.m. Monday to respond to requests by state legislative leaders to intervene.

Couples around the state had been waiting in courthouses to see if Osteen would rule North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional. A similar federal case regarding whether religious leaders’ rights to perform same-sex marriages is still pending.

 

N.C. House Speaker (and U.S. Senate candidate) Thom Tillis and state Sen. President Pro-Tem Phil Berger asked to intervene in the case and stop couples from marrying earlier today.

Tillis and Berger are hoping to intervene by arguing that their interests opposing same-sex marriages were no longer being represented by  Cooper, who announced earlier this year that his office would no longer defend North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriages after a federal circuit court found a similar ban in Virginia was unconstitutional.

Cooper is a Democrat and Berger and Tillis are both Republicans.

In his order, Osteen indicated that he would make his decision quickly.

“The parties are advised that this court will proceed to ruling an order on the motion to intervene and a final order as soon as reasonably possible following receipt of the briefs from Plaintiffs and the State of North Carolina,” he wrote. “Movants should not anticipate a lengthy proceedings in this court in ligth of the applicability of the Bostic and these cases will not be delayed unnecessarily.”

Osteen’s order is here:

 

osteen10.10 by NC Policy Watch

News

blog-voucherAs Policy Watch just reported, today the state Supreme Court decided to bypass the Court of Appeals and take up for its own review the fight over whether or not North Carolina’s new school voucher program should continue.

In the case Hart v. North Carolina, Superior Court Judge Robert H. Hobgood found the school voucher program to be unconstitutional for several reasons–chiefly that the program uses public funds for private use and that it does not serve a public purpose.

The last stop for the case was with the Court of Appeals, which ruled in late September that the 1,878 students who have already been granted school vouchers can now use those taxpayer dollars at private schools while the Court worked toward a final decision on the program.

That ruling allowed the state to disburse more than $1 million to private schools already — $90,300 of which were sent to financially troubled Greensboro Islamic Academy, the largest recipient of voucher funds to date.

Stay tuned for more developments.