Supreme Court side with same sex spouses
The United States Supreme Court made two big moves for marriage equality on Wednesday, one of which was striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
DOMA, as it’s known, was passed in 1996 and signed into law by former President Bill Clinton. The act denied benefits to same-sex spouses. The Supreme Court ruled that the “The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) provision creates unequal status for some same-sex couples legally married in states that allow it and thus is unconstitutional.”
With the Supreme Court’s decision, same-sex married couples will be eligible for a range of federal tax, health and retirement benefits.
Because gay marriage is not legal in North Carolina, the decision does not have an effect on same-sex couples in this state.
N.C. Rep. Marcus Brandon, who is from High Point, is the state’s only openly gay legislator. He said this is a huge step in the right direction.
“This is a historic moment not only for the LGBT movement, but for every person in this country who believes in the principles of equality, justice and civil rights,” he said. “After last year’s crushing step backward with the passage of Amendment 1 here in North Carolina, it is encouraging to see that the rest of the nation is continuing to move forward. This doesn’t mean that our fight is over, it just means that the arc of history is continuing to bend toward justice.”
Others were not as excited about the ruling.
“We are not happy,” said Barry Bunting, chairman of the Randolph County Republican Party. “Marriage is between one man and one woman and anything other than that is wrong. The Bible says that and regardless of what the court says, that’s what these people were born and raised to believe.”
Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, said gay marriage has been a divisive and controversial matter and will continue to be.
“Today is a devastating day for traditional marriage and religious freedom,” he said in a statement. “In spite of the blow to this sacred union, we must always remember that marriage is precious, a biblical gift, and one that should not have been tainted by redefining it in a way that is counter to God’s plan for families and for America. Defining marriage for the American people is way above the Supreme Court’s pay grade. God created marriage and He has defined its parameters, regardless of what the majority of Supreme Court justices might think.”
President Barack Obama released this statement on the decision:
“I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
What does this mean for North Carolina?
The U.S. Supreme Court ruling DOMA unconstitutional does not have any affect on the gay marriage ban that voters passed as Amendment One to the state’s constitution. Gay marriage is still illegal in this state.
If a same-sex couple were to go to a state in which gay marriage is legal and come to North Carolina, their marriage would not be observed in this state. Federal benefits for same-sex spouses will only apply in the states in which same-sex marriage is legal.