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Jul 28, 2014

LOVE WINS: 4th Circuit Rejects Ban on Marriage Equality

Raleigh, N.C. – In a landmark ruling that will reverberate throughout the South and the entire country, the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has upheld a lower court ruling and struck down Virginia’s ban on the freedom to marry.

Expanding a lengthy streak of legal victories for marriage equality, the federal appeals in Richmond ruled today that states may not deny same-sex couples their fundamental right to marry, overturning Virginia’s 2006 marriage ban. On the heels of a similar 10th Circuit holding on June 25, today’s ruling marks the second time that a federal appeals panel had found that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.

The ruling could bring marriage equality closer, not just in Virginia, but in the other 4th Circuit states still seeking marriage across the South, including North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia.

  • Equality NC will host a “Decision Day” event this evening starting at 6:30 p.m. at Motorco Music Hall in Durham, NC designed to disseminate information about the day’s ruling and how it could impact same-sex couples living in the state. Learn more >>>
  • Equality NC will host a "Decision Week" marriage hotline at 1-866-470-2570, designed to respond to the public's legal questions about the impact of the 4th circuit decision and "next steps" for same-sex couples interested in shoring up legal rights and responsibilities. Learn more >>>

Equality NC’s executive director Chris Sgro hailed the 2-1 decision as a historic win for equality.

“It’s hard to believe how far we’ve come. Just two years ago, in the darkest hours of our state’s LGBT movement, anti-gay forces in North Carolina pushed through a draconian constitutional amendment banning all relationship recognitions for same-sex couples,” said Sgro. “But thanks to the work of so many legal teams and plaintiffs, communities and organizations, supporters, families, and followers, we’re seeing today what a difference a few years of hard work, leadership, and commitment to equality in the South can make. With today’s ruling, we are closer to the freedom to marry than ever before, with support for marriage equality at an all-time high right here in North Carolina, across the South, and across the country.”

Numerous lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans are percolating through the country's legal system, including three cases in North Carolina directly challenging Amendment One, North Carolina’s 2012 constitutional ban on the freedom to marry. The Supreme Court could confront the issue as early as next year.

Sgro added, “Winning the freedom to marry is no longer a matter of IF, it’s a matter of WHEN. And we’re close, but we’re not there yet – as today marks a historic first step forward, while we continue to look to the Supreme Court to provide a final, national resolution to this rising call for marriage equality in our home state and beyond.”

Learn more about the 4th Circuit's impact on NC at equalitync.org/marriage.

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