Good for Gov. Pat McCrory. He announced this afternoon that he would veto the bill passed by the House today that would allow magistrates to opt out of their duty to officiate at marriages due to their “religious beliefs.”

Now, the question is: Can he make a veto stick or will he just get rolled over by state lawmakers as he usually does? A first look at the veto override math leads to the conclusion that he will have his work cut out for him.

The Senate seems likely to be a lost cause since only 30 votes are necessary to override and the bill passed with 32. There were also two excused absences — at least one of whom is a sure thing to support an override.

The House is where the drama will be. Assuming all members are present, 72 votes are necessary for an override. Since the bill passed by votes of 65-45 and 67-43, there would appear to be some hope. Note however, that there were 10 people who failed to participate in both votes. Add to this that at least two members voted for the measure on third reading who did not do so on second reading (Democrat Charles Graham went from “not voting” to “yes” and Republican David Lewis went from “no” to “yes”) and you can see how this could quickly get very messy.

The bottom line: Stay tuned as we’re about to find out a lot about McCrory and the future of North Carolina.


Tammy CovilIn case you missed it in all of the social issues hullabaloo at the General Assembly over the past 24 hours, the good people at Equality NC have unearthed a troubling Facebook post by the co-chairperson of North Carolina’s Academic Standards Review Commission (aka the Common Core Commission).

Tammy Jobin Covil, an elected New Hanover County Board of Education member and an appointee of former House Speaker (and current U.S. Senator) Thom Tillis to the Common Core group, appears to have said the following in a post that was shared with a New Hanover Co. (NC) Republicans Facebook group:

“Yet another example of why the social issues matter in politics. Gay marriage isn’t about marriage rights at all, it’s about forcing others to accept a perverted lifestyle choice as ‘normal.’ It’s important to know where the leaders of our party stand on these issues because they have a profound impact on our society. #TheSocialIssuesMatter

Covil’s Facebook posts (and Twitter account) are “protected” and not available to the general public, but the comment — which was quoted and re-tweeted on the Equality NC Twitter account yesterday — was presumably forwarded to Equality NC by a concerned member of the New Hanover GOP group. The Fox TV station in Wilmington has coverage of the story here.

Of course, the post would not be surprising from a person who regularly espouses hard right views on an array of issues and who features a photo of herself and GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson on her Facebook page. Carson, of course, has uttered multiple anti-gay slurs during his discouragingly-extended time in public life and politics.

One has to wonder what Senator Tillis would think about the statement of his appointee. Here is the full Equality NC tweet:


Gay marriage 2After it gave the bill a perfunctory review and then ignored it, there was hope that the North Carolina House had decided, smartly, to deep-six the discriminatory Senate proposal to allow North Carolina magistrates to opt out of marrying same sex couples. Now, sadly, the measure is back and scheduled to be heard in committee today.

Fortunately, the chances of this discriminatory proposal actually ever going into effect remain highly questionable. As reporter Sharon McCloskey explains over on the main Policy Watch site this morning, the bill is a successful lawsuit waiting to happen:

“If the bill passes in the House and becomes law, it would be the first of its kind in the country, according to Katharine Franke, a professor at Columbia University School of Law and director of its Center for Gender & Sexuality Law.

(A similar bill in Texas recently failed after corporations there voiced their opposition.)

And in the eyes of legal experts, it would be unquestionably unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, the Charlotte Observer explains in an excellent editorial this morning why it should never get that far: Read More


Start your morning with this excellent essay by Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick about instances where the wheels fell off the gay marriage opposition bus yesterday, including most notably the failure of attorneys for that side to reach the critical swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, where he lives — in the world of dignity.

As Lithwick points out, Kennedy has been all about dignity — she calls him the “dignity-whisperer” — in court decisions he’s authored touching upon the institution of marriage.

So when counsel for Michigan defending that state’s ban paints marriage into some sort of biological-bonding corner, he gets Kennedy’s goat:

[T]here is a rather extraordinary moment Tuesday morning . . . when Kennedy finds himself in an argument with John Bursch, Michigan’s special assistant attorney general, about whether marriage is a dignity-conferring enterprise, or not. Bursch, defending his state’s ban on same-sex marriage, is explaining that the purpose of marriage is not to confer dignity but to keep parents bonded to their biological children.

Justice Kennedy—who opened argument Tuesday morning with the observation that this whole case is about an institution whose definition has gone unchanged for millennia—looks rather shocked. The author of the majority decision outlawing sodomy bans in Lawrence v. Texas (“Adults may choose to enter upon this relationship in the confines of their homes and their own private lives and still retain their dignity as free persons”) and the decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor (“It seems fair to conclude that, until recent years, many citizens had not even considered the possibility that two persons of the same sex might aspire to occupy the same status and dignity as that of a man and woman in lawful marriage”) did not want to hear this. Indeed, it seems like Kennedy wanted it to be perfectly clear that he is the guy who gets to say that if marriage is nothing else, it is a dignity-stamper.

The tussle between Kennedy and Bursch doesn’t end there, with the attorney circling back to the dignity point later in the argument:

Bursch circles back to say, again, “marriage was never intended to be dignity bestowing.” At which point Kennedy almost bursts a pipe: “I don’t understand that [marriage] is not dignity bestowing. I thought that was the whole purpose of marriage. It bestows dignity on both man and woman in a traditional marriage. … It’s dignity bestowing, and these parties say they want to have that same ennoblement.”

Bursch replies that the “state is trying to figure out how do we link together these kids with their biological moms and dads when possible, the glue are benefits and burdens, but not necessarily dignity.” Anthony “Dignity” Kennedy can’t even believe it: “Well, I think many states would be surprised, with reference to traditional marriages, they are not enhancing the dignity of both the parties.” It seems to me that nobody puts Dignity Kennedy in the corner. Not even Michigan.

Read more on the argument yesterday here, and what the case might mean for North Carolina here.


(Sketch: Art Lien @Courtartist)

(Sketch: Art Lien @Courtartist)

Starting at 10 a.m. , the U.S. Supreme Court begins hearing two-and-a-half hours of argument in the cases challenging state bans on same-sex marriage.

Since no cameras or other audio/video equipment is allowed in the courtroom, there will be no live feed of the argument.

The Court is, however, expediting the release of the taped argument, which should be available by 2 p.m. today.

In the meantime, we’ll be posting about the arguments here as we learn more from experts and others who are in the courtroom.


More on audio feed at the Court:



Images from outside the Court:



Hillary Rodham Clinton showing support:



From the New York Times:



First updates from SCOTUSblog:



Reaction so far:  “skeptical” questions from the justices:




Attorney for challengers wrapping up initial argument (from SCOTUSblog):



First update on challengers’ argument from NYT:



SCOTUSblog on questions from Justice Anthony Kennedy:



Justices “deeply divided,” says NYT’s Adam Liptak in this initial report:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday seemed deeply divided about one of the great civil rights issues of the age: whether the Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry.

The justices appeared to clash over not only what is the right answer but also over how to reach it. The questioning illuminated their conflicting views on history, tradition, biology, constitutional interpretation, the democratic process and the role of the courts in prodding social change.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said he was concerned about changing a conception of marriage that has persisted for millennia. Later, though, he expressed qualms about excluding gay families from what he called a noble and sacred institution. Chief Justice John C. Roberts Jr. worried about shutting down a fast-moving societal debate.

In the initial questioning, which lasted about 90 minutes, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. asked whether groups of four people must be allowed to marry, while Justice Antonin Scalia said a ruling for same-sex marriage might require some members of the clergy to perform the ceremonies, even if they violate their religious teaching.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer described marriage as a fundamental liberty. And Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan said that allowing same-sex marriage would do no harm to the marriages of opposite-sex couples.


LISTEN NOW — Audio from first part of same-sex marriage cases is up and can be heard HERE


Second part of the argument focused on the questions of whether states must recognize gay marriages legally performed elsewhere.  That argument wrapped up at 12:30 p.m. and concluded today’s session.

Below are few more snippets from the day: