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Same-sex marriages may be happening in North Carolina — thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to review the Fourth Circuit’s Bostic decision, allowing such marriages — but one day soon that might change, Lieutenant Gov. Dan Forest suggests in a recent blog post on his website.

In the article (written under his signature but posted by Kami Mueller), the lieutenant governor defends his position that the states, and not the federal government, have the sole constitutional authority to make decisions about marriage.

A majority of justices have said as much, Forest adds, pointing to language from Justice Anthony Kennedy in the high court’s 2013 U.S. v. Windsor decision and agreed to by the court’s liberal justices (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan):

The recognition of civil marriages is central to state domestic relations law applicable to its residents and citizens. The definition of marriage is the foundation of the State’s broader authority to regulate the subject of domestic relations with respect to the “[p]rotection of offspring, property interests, and the enforcement of marital responsibilities.”

Consistent with this allocation of authority, the Federal Government, through our history, has deferred to state-law policy decisions with respect to domestic relations. . ..

With those words, Forest offers hope that the high court may yet take up a marriage equality case and reverse the tide of same-sex marriages now sweeping the country.

But Forest apparently overlooked Kennedy’s words immediately preceding the quote above, in which the justice points out as a given that state marriage laws must respect a person’s constitutional rights:

In order to assess the validity of that intervention it is necessary to discuss the extent of the state power and authority over marriage as a matter of history and tradition. State laws defining and regulating marriage, of course, must respect the constitutional rights of persons, see, e.g., Loving v. Virginia . . . 
And the lieutenant governor may have also forgotten this:  Only four justices need to agree to take a case. If those on the court’s conservative wing (Chief Justice John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito) were intent on taking up the marriage equality issue and perhaps tipping their hats to states’ rights, they could have done so in Bostic.
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As we noted in this space last week, Raleigh played host this past Saturday to a “Nullify Now!” event at which people closely tied to powerful groups and individuals within the modern conservative movment touted some pretty radical stuff –e.g. the notion that states have the right to nullify federal laws they don’t like and even secede from the union. Talk about going back to the 60″s…the 1860’s, that is!

 Today’s Weekly Briefing has some more information and thoughts on the event and makes the argument that, as absurdly wacky as the whole thing was, there is probably good reason for caring and thinking people to take these folks seriously and pay closer attention to what they are saying.

Click here to read more.

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As Chris Fitzsimon has been pointing out lately, a group calling itself “Nullify Now” will meet at the Raleigh Convention Center tomorrow. The event is, amazingly enough, co-sponsored by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Greg Brannon of Cary. Brannon, of course, is the fellow who recently picked up the endorsement of national Tea Party favorite, Rand Paul.

In addition to Brannon, the nullifier event is also co-sponsored by, among other fun groups, the North Carolina League of the South — a group that calls for secession from the United States, a western NC branch of the certifiable Glenn Beck creation known as the 9-12 Project, something called Dr. Dan’s Freedom Forum (a website apparently founded by an Asheville-area tea partier who has run for congress in the past) and, not surprisingly,  a for-profit gold and silver retailer.

Should be a fun time. We’ll keep our eyes peeled and ears to the ground for any especially inspiring moments (and any new secession resolutions). Stay tuned!