NC Amendment One may get struck down this summer

Both the Winston-Salem Journal and Greensboro News and Record are carrying a McClatchy Tribune article on the vulnerability of NC's Amendment One. A ruling striking down the ban could come a few months before the 2014 midterms.

The 4th Circuit, which covers the Carolinas, West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland, is one of several appeals courts around the nation that will hear potentially ground-breaking marriage cases in the coming months. Utah’s legal showdown begins Thursday.

Same-sex marriage is already allowed in Maryland. And on Valentine’s Day, a federal judge in Virginia ruled her state’s gay marriage ban is unconstitutional.

That ruling is now being appealed, and in line with the speed of other marriage-equality appeals, that case will be heard by the 4th Circuit panel on May 13.

If the judges allow the Virginia court ruling to stand, they almost certainly will strike down existing marriage bans in the Carolinas and West Virginia, legal experts predicted. The court’s decision could come as soon as late summer.

“Potentially, the court could narrowly apply their decision to Virginia, but it’s hard to see how they would do that,” said Maxine Eichner, a specialist in sexuality and the law at UNC School of Law.

North Carolina’s constitutional ban on gay marriage was passed by more than 60 percent of the voters in May 2012. A month before the referendum, House Speaker Thom Tillis, who supported the ban, predicted the amendment would be reversed within a generation.

It looks like it's going to get struck down less than three years after it passed, but ya supported it anyway, didn't you Thom?

North Carolina courts have their own marriage lawsuit to consider, but U.S. District Judge William Osteen of Greensboro, who will hear the challenge by the ACLU and several same-sex couples to Amendment One, appears to be waiting on the 4th Circuit’s decision before pushing the case ahead.

“Judge Osteen sees the writing on the wall and knows there’s no great incentive for him to issue a decision in his case,” said Greg Wallace, who teaches law at Campbell University and favors traditional marriage.

“If the 4th Circuit holds the Virginia law unconstitutional, that would effectively render the North Carolina law unconstitutional, too. … It would be very hard for Judge Osteen to say, ‘This case is different.’ ”


Impact on the election

If the case results in Amendment One getting struck down in late summer, it's tough to say how it might impact the election later in the year. The article notes that individuals in NC still favor Amendment One by a close margin of 47 to 43.

The Tea Bagger candidates could amp up the gay bashing rhetoric in an attempt to turn out their base. On the other hand, with other voters, it might add to the image that they're whining and out of touch.

McCrory and others will have to weigh in since an overturn of the law would impact NC's tax laws and such.

I hope you're right

Things are changing fast on support for marriage equality, and even though the poll might suggest NC isn't ready to support full marriage equality, if you look at the break down, both more Dems & more Inds support equality than oppose it. So I don't see gay bashing as a way to win the middle, not any more.