NORTH CAROLINA: Appeals Court Rejects Challenge To Law Allowing Officials To Refuse Same-Sex Weddings

Raleigh’s NBC affiliate reports:

A federal appeals court has rejected a challenge to a North Carolina law that allows magistrates to refuse to perform same-sex marriages. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling on Wednesday that three couples who sued to overturn the law lack standing to challenge the law’s use of taxpayer funds.

Two gay couples and one interracial couple argued that the state was improperly using their tax dollars to accommodate magistrates’ religious views, but a federal judge last year said none of the couples had been harmed by the law, so they couldn’t challenge it. The 4th Circuit likewise found that the couples didn’t meet narrow criteria for challenging the law as taxpayers.

From the Campaign For Southern Equality:

A three-judge panel from the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that plaintiffs in Ansley v. Warren, the federal lawsuit challenging Senate Bill 2, do not have standing to challenge the law. “We are reviewing the court’s opinion published this morning and will make a decision about whether to pursue any further appeals, either to the full 4th Circuit or to the Supreme Court,” says Luke Largess, a partner at Tin Fulton Walker & Owen and lead counsel in Ansley v. Warren.

“SB2 is unjust and distorts the true meaning of religious freedom. From day one, it’s been clear that SB2 is about one thing – finding a new way to discriminate against same-sex couples and privileging one set of religious beliefs over others. We will keep standing up to discrimination until LGBTQ North Carolinians are equal in every sphere of life,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.

The law was signed by former Gov. Pat McCrory in 2015 after the Obergefell ruling was issued. Only about 5% of North Carolina magistrates and public officials have thus far refused to serve same-sex couples.