February 1, 2024

When Was Gay Marriage Legalized in North Carolina?

As of October 2014, same-sex marriage is legal in North Carolina. This was a result of a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Max Cogburn in the case of the Campaign for Southern Equality v. Cooper, which struck down the state’s anti-marriage amendment. The Supreme Court denied a writ of certiorari on the same day, allowing the lower-court decision to stand.

Prior to that ruling, gay couples married in one state could face issues if they moved to another with different laws on the matter. They would need to obtain a divorce in order for the new state to recognize their marriage, or risk losing property that they had acquired while married in the first state.

In addition to the Supreme Court decision, the North Carolina legislature passed a law in 2022 ensuring that same-sex couples would be protected against future attempts to make marriage illegal again. This was part of a larger law (known as the Respect for Marriage Act) that made it incredibly difficult for any state to reverse the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.

However, opponents of same-sex marriage continue to have a better record at the ballot box. They’ve been able to pass constitutional amendments banning the practice in states with more socially conservative constituencies, and have successfully added language to 30 state constitutions, including North Carolina. In the upcoming midterm elections, many same-sex marriage supporters are fighting hard to ensure that their rights are protected.

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