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Drew Reisinger, Buncombe County’s Register of Deeds, made good on his pledge Tuesday to begin accepting applications from same-sex couples requesting marriage licenses. Reisinger plans to hold the applications from 11 same-sex couples while he seeks a formal opinion on the constitutionality of the state’s same-sex marriage ban from North Carolina’s Attorney General.Reisinger-and-Cooper

“I understand that the Attorney General will uphold state law, however I am not sure this is a black and white issue under state and federal law,” Reisinger said. “That’s why I am asking for his interpretations as the chief legal adviser for our state.”

Reisinger has formally asked the Attorney General to give his legal opinion on the following points:

1. Under the precedent created by the Windsor decision by the US Supreme Court, does our current practice of treating North Carolina same sex couples differently than both straight couples in North Carolina and same sex couples married outside of the state violate the federal and North Carolina Equal Protection constitutional clauses?
2. Under Windsor and the US Equal Protection Clause, can I, and Registers of Deeds across North Carolina, begin to provide marriage licenses to same sex couples in North Carolina?
3. Does Section 6, Article XIV of the North Carolina Constitution violate state and federal equal protection requirements?

Click here to read Reisinger’s formal request for the Attorney General’s opinion on the ban.

Cooper has previously said the he personally supports marriage equality, but will defend North Carolina’s ban.

As detailed in this morning’s Wall Street Journal, state courts have begun embracing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Windsor, striking down part of a federal law that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and even building on that ruling in challenges over state laws concerning same-sex marriage and other issues affecting gays and lesbians.

“It’s a pattern that’s emerging—and it’s striking,” said David Cruz, a law professor at the University of Southern California and an expert on civil-rights law. Rather than finding ways around Windsor, he said, “judges are embracing its principles.

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The effect of Windsor could grow significantly in months to come, say legal experts. More than a dozen challenges to same-sex-marriage laws are pending, nine of which were filed post-Windsor, according to Jon Davidson, the legal director at Lambda Legal, which advocates on behalf of same-sex couples seeking the right to marry.

That includes a challenge in North Carolina which began as a lawsuit concerning the state’s adoption laws as applied to gay couples but has since expanded, with the consent of Attorney General Roy Cooper, to include a challenge to the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

From the good folks at the ACLU of North Carolina:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 26, 2013 

ACLU Wins Landmark Victory for Marriage Equality; Supreme Court Rules DOMA Unconstitutional
ACLU-NC Says Ruling “Makes Us More Determined Than Ever to Secure Equal Rights for LGBT North Carolinians”

RALEIGH – Today, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional. This ruling will allow legally married same-sex couples to receive more than 1,000 federal benefits.

Edith Windsor, the plaintiff in United States v. Windsor, was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and New York Civil Liberties Union, among others.

 The ACLU of North Carolina (ACLU-NC) released the following statement: Read More

For those out there who don’t follow the excellent Glenn Greenwald, be sure to check out his column from earlier this week on the nation’s rapid progress on marriage equality. As Greenwald writes, it’s clearly grounds for a more general optimism regarding the prospects of societal progress in any number of areas:

“It really is a bit shocking how quickly gay marriage transformed from being a fringe, politically toxic position just a few years ago to a virtual piety that must be affirmed in decent company. Whenever I write or speak about any of the issues on which I focus, I always emphasize that a posture of defeatism – which is a form of learned impotence: a belief that meaningful change is impossible – is misguided. This demonstrates why that is true: even the most ossified biases and entrenched institutional injustices can be subverted – if the necessary passion and will are summoned and the right strategies found.”

But, as Greenwald also notes, one needs to be careful in assuming that progress for LGBT Americans automatically heralds progress for other oppressed groups: Read More

Kay HaganRaleigh’s News & Observer reports that she has endorsed masrriage equality.

The article quotes Hagan as saying:

“I know there are strong feelings on both sides, and I have a great deal of respect for their opinions. But after much thought and prayer on my part this is where I am today. I know all our families do not look alike. We all want the same thing for our families. We want happiness, we want health, prosperity, a bright future for our children and grandchildren. After conversations I’ve had with family members, with people I go to church with and with North Carolinians from all walks of life, I’ve come to my own personal conclusion that we should not tell people who they can love, or who they can marry. It’s time to move forward with this issue.”

Good work. About time.