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While equality advocates are universally celebrating today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision, critics have issued mixed responses.

Not surprisingly, Equality NC hailed the decision:

“Chris Sgro, Equality NC’s executive director, called this ‘a historic day’ for the United States and the state of North Carolina.’Today’s ruling granting loving, same-sex couples the freedom to marry across our United States is a historic moment for our country, and for tens of thousands of same-sex families who call our state home,’ said Sgro. ‘With it, gays and lesbians in every corner of the United States will finally be able to marry the person they love. Today, love won and we celebrate all who have worked tirelessly over many decades to change hearts and minds and make this ruling a possibility.’

Sgro added, ‘Even as we celebrate, we know our progress does not and will not end at the Supreme Court. Same-sex couples can legally marry in North Carolina—and the very same day, be denied public services, fired from their job or denied housing simply because of who they are. With these harsh realities in mind, Equality NC remains committed to fighting for full equality for LGBT North Carolinians wherever they work or live.’”

And this is from the ACLU:

“‘The Supreme Court today welcomed same-sex couples fully into the American family. Gay and lesbian couples and our families may be at peace knowing that our simple request to be treated like everyone else – that is, to be able to participate in the dignity of marriage – has finally been granted,’ said James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and HIV Project. ‘Today’s historic victory comes on the backs of same-sex couples and advocates who have worked for decades to dismantle harmful stereotypes and unjust laws in the quest for equal treatment.’

The court’s 5-4 opinion holds that state marriage bans violate the due process and equal protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution. Recognizing that ‘marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death,’ the Court held that the Constitution grants to same-sex couples the right to “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.”

‘Today’s decision has been 50 years in the making and will stand with Brown vs. Board of Education as one of the landmark civil rights moments of our time,’ said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director. ‘Now we take the battle for full legal equality to the states, where 31 states have yet to pass any statewide LGBT non-discrimination laws. The wind is at our backs, and we are now on the cusp of achieving full legal equality for LGBT Americans across the country.'”

North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger offered somewhat muted criticism:

“The majority of North Carolina voters who define marriage as between one man and one woman deserved a final resolution from the Supreme Court. while this decision is disappointing, we respect the ruling and will continue to work to ensure North Carolina complies with the law of the land.”

Meanwhile conservative social warriors were scathing in their reaction.  Read More

Commentary
Charlotte Observer editorial page editor Taylor Batten.

Charlotte Observer editorial page editor Taylor Batten.

Now that North Carolina has made it state law that magistrates and registers of deeds can get out of doing parts of their sworn duties due to “sincere religious beliefs,” Charlotte Observer editorial page editor Taylor Batten has a long list of duties he would like to be excused from in his job.

For instance, he’s no longer going to write editorials on Mondays, which he considers a holy day for recovery from the weekend or Fridays, which he needs to recover from the week.

Batten’s column may be intended to make light of the law before the courts get around to striking it down as absurdly unconstitutional, but it does make a very important point: If North Carolina  is really going to head down this road, it could quite easily and quickly find itself on a very slippery slope.

One friend of NC Policy Watch suggests that sheriffs who have a religious objection to killing might reasonably might refuse to issue any handgun permits.

Hmmm — maybe there is something to this idea.

What part of your job would you like to be excused from due to “religious belief?

Commentary

Today, on the 48th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision striking down state laws banning interracial marriage in the case of Loving v. Virginia, condemnations continue to pour in from across the country for North Carolina’s absurd and offensive new marriage discrimination law. Here are just a few:

From Raleigh’s News & Observer:

“Senate leader Phil Berger, the champion of the measure, says it protects the religious freedom of public servants who have religious objections to same-sex marriage. But this is not about protecting religion. It is about respecting the law. With this vote, the majority has scoffed at it….

In its defiant rejection of that message, the General Assembly once more raises that flag of intolerance over North Carolina as it did when it approved an amendment to the state Constitution banning same-sex marriage. That flag is seen nationwide. It will be another signal of the state’s rightward turn and another reason why businesses and people will less inclined to make a new home in North Carolina. Even if Democrats reclaimed the General Assembly, it would be years before the state’s image could heal from the battering this current legislative leadership is giving it.”

From the Greensboro News & Record:

“Now the state will have to live with the consequences of a law that is not only discriminatory but, as the governor labeled it, unconstitutional. It will draw yet more legal challenges. This legislature is costing taxpayers many millions of dollars in lawyers’ fees and losing one court ruling after another. This will be one more….In the meantime, North Carolina makes itself known across the country for enacting a law that says some people can expect less service than others in state offices. It’s a shame. Having enough votes doesn’t put the legislature in the right.”

From the New Yorker magazine:

“Proposals to let magistrates withhold marriage licenses have the same problems, with the added insult that the discrimination is effectively coming from the state. If officials can decide not to implement laws they dislike, then equality under the law—for gay couples, at least —is just a slogan.”

From the Orange County, California Register:

“SB2 violates civil rights and insults human dignity. As did anti-miscegenation laws, it would violate constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection of the law. United States v. Windsor, in which the high court in 2013 struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, affirmed that ‘state laws defining or regulating marriage, of course, must respect the constitutional rights of persons.’”

The bottom line: North Carolina is once again the butt of jokes and derision around the country and the world and the Raleigh reign of error continues.

Commentary
House Speaker Tim Moore

House Speaker Tim Moore

Today’s vote in the North Carolina House of Representatives to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of Senate Bill 2 — lawmakers’ latest effort to preserve some precious shreds of hate and discrimination in state marriage law — was absurd and offensive for a number of reasons.

There was the substance of the new law that will surely cost the state boatloads of money to defend against constitutional challenges — challenges that will almost certainly prevail.

There was the hypocrisy of the bill sponsors and defenders — all of whom somehow developed a passion for “religious freedom” of magistrates despite having voted countless times themselves without blinking an eye to impose duties on other public officials that could quite conceivably violate those other officials’  “religious beliefs.”

If there was a most outrageous and offensive aspect of today’s developments, however, it was not the substance of the legislation but the ridiculous “process” that House leaders employed to do their dirty deed.

Two-hundred and forty seconds. That’s how long it took for House leaders to run their little orchestrated kangaroo session. You can see the entire charade by clicking here and watching between the 5:30 and 9:30 marks on the video.

You see, House leaders couldn’t be bothered to allow the issue — a hugely divisive and important matter that desperately needed more illumination — to be discussed thoroughly on the floor of the people’s house (the Governor of the state had acted upon it for heaven’s sake!).

Rather than allowing members to discuss it (and maybe even allow a few more of the 10 members who were absent to show up for session or, God forbid, for some people to listen to the debate and think), they brought the bill up without warning immediately at the start of what had been expected to be a quiet session and then “called the question” — thus shutting off debate. Read More

Commentary

George WallaceThe decision of North Carolina House to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of Senate Bill 2 this morning comes on an appropriate anniversary in American history.

As the Jackson Mississippi Clarion-Ledger reminds us this morning:

“June 11, 1963: Alabama Governor George Wallace stood in front of a schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama in an attempt to stop desegregation by the enrollment of two African-American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood. Wallace stood aside after being confronted by federal marshals, Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach and the Alabama National Guard. Later in life, Wallace apologized for his opposition to racial integration.”

Let’s hope it doesn’t take long for officials of the United States government to ask state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore to step aside (and that Berger and Moore don’t take as long as Wallace did to apologize for their embarrassing actions).