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LGBT Rights

The ACLU's LGBT Project works for an America free of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This means an America where LGBT people can live openly, where identities, relationships and families are respected, and where there is fair treatment on the job, in schools, housing, public places, health care, and government programs. 

GREENSBORO - U.S. District Judge William Osteen today ruled that North Carolina’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional. He is the second federal judge to do so in five days. The ruling came in two lawsuits brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn issued a separate ruling that struck down North Carolina’s marriage ban and added North Carolina to the list of states to extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples. Judge Osteen, who was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush, also gave North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger the ability to intervene in the case on appeal.

“Judge Osteen’s ruling is the second in five days to declare North Carolina’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples to be unconstitutional,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina. “This second ruling further emphasizes that North Carolina’s now-defunct marriage ban was discriminatory and denied same-sex couples their constitutional rights to due process and equal protection under the law. The legislature can attempt to pursue an appeal if they so choose; however, that would only unnecessarily expend taxpayer resources. North Carolinians can rest assured: the freedom to marry is here to stay.”

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RALEIGH – A federal judge in Asheville today ruled that North Carolina’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional.

Judge Max Cogburn’s ruling extends the freedom to marry to same-sex couples in North Carolina and requires North Carolina to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples performed in other states.

“This is a historic day for freedom and equality in North Carolina,” said Jennifer Rudinger, Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “Thousands of North Carolinians are now able to marry the person they love and receive the dignity and legal security that comes with having that marriage recognized in their home state. For countless couples and their children, this victory is nothing short of life changing.”  

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ACLU Comment on Status of N.C. Marriage Cases

Posted on in LGBT Rights

GREENSBORO - U.S. District Judge William Osteen today denied a request from North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger to allow oral arguments in two American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuits challenging North Carolina’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples. Judge Osteen also asked current parties in the lawsuit to provide further guidance on whether to allow Tillis and Berger to intervene in the case by 3 p.m. on Monday, October 13.

ACLU of North Carolina Legal Director Chris Brook released the following statement:

“The movement in these cases is encouraging, but the freedom to marry cannot come to North Carolina soon enough. Judge Osteen has indicated he needs no further briefing on the constitutionality of North Carolina’s marriage ban, and we are hopeful that a ruling striking down this discriminatory law will come in a matter of days. We are working to reply to all of Judge Osteen’s requests as soon as possible.”

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court today announced it would not review appeals court rulings in seven states, including one from Virginia by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, striking down state bans on marriage for same-sex couples. The decision means that all of those rulings stand, and the states in their jurisdiction must comply with the law and recognize the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.

North Carolina is one of five states in the Fourth Circuit. The Supreme Court’s announcement means that all states in the Fourth Circuit, including North Carolina, are bound by the Fourth Circuit’s ruling that struck down Virginia’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples.

“The Supreme Court’s decision means that the freedom to marry for same-sex couples must be recognized here in North Carolina without delay,” said Chris Brook, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina. “We are asking the district court here in North Carolina to immediately issue a ruling striking down North Carolina’s unconstitutional and discriminatory ban on marriage for same-sex couples. Every day that gay and lesbian couples in North Carolina are denied the ability to marry the person they love places their families and children in legal and financial jeopardy. The time has come to end this unfair treatment once and for all and to let our American values of freedom and equality apply to all couples.”   

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GREENSBORO – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation have asked a federal judge to quickly overturn North Carolina’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples in light of a recent ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that found Virginia’s similar marriage ban unconstitutional.

In documents filed late yesterday with a federal judge in Greensboro, the ACLU explains that the Fourth Circuit’s decision striking down Virginia’s marriage ban created a legal precedent that must be followed by courts in North Carolina, one of five states in the Fourth Circuit. On July 30, Judge William Osteen Jr. asked the parties in two ACLU cases challenging North Carolina’s marriage ban to explain the significance of the Fourth Circuit ruling to North Carolina’s law.

“The ruling from the Fourth Circuit makes plain that North Carolina’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is discriminatory and unconstitutional,” said ACLU-NC Legal Director Chris Brook. “By denying gay and lesbian couples the dignity and legal security that comes with marriage, North Carolina’s law has harmed countless families and made it harder for people to take care of those they love. We are asking the court to provide relief for these families and strike down North Carolina’s discriminatory and unconstitutional ban without delay.”

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