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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 stayed an appeals court order that restored same-day registration and reinstated out-of-precinct provisional voting in North Carolina in time for the midterm election. Those provisions are being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. Last week, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked them from taking effect, prompting the state to seek a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court. The court has not yet ruled on the merits of the case.

The following is a statement from Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project:

"Thousands of North Carolinians will be left out of the upcoming election. More than 20,000 North Carolina voters used same-day registration in the last midterm election. While this order is not a final ruling on the merits, it does allow a law that undermines voter participation to be in effect as this case makes its way through the courts."

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