North Carolina’s unique position in the South on gay marriage is bringing supporters and opponents of a constitutional amendment to Raleigh. North Carolina is the only Southeastern state that hasn’t approved an amendment restricting marriage to one man and one woman.
Christian conservatives will hold their biennial rally Tuesday morning in support of an amendment banning gay marriage. The rally organized by the Winston-Salem group Return America attracted thousands of people in 2007 and 2009.
Changing Same-Sex Marriage Rights
In 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Court held that the state law barring same-sex marriage was unconstitutional under the Massachusetts constitution and ordered the legislature to remedy the discrimination within six months(Goodridge v. Department of Public Health). In February 2004, the court ruled that offering civil unions instead of civil marriage would not meet the requirements set forth inGoodridge. As a result, same-sex couples in Massachusetts can enter into civil marriages, and thousands have done so in the last five-plus years.
In October 2008, the Connecticut Supreme Court likewise ruled that the state’s civil union law discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation and was unconstitutional and that “the segregation of heterosexual and homosexual couples into separate institutions constitutes a [constitutionally] cognizable harm.” The court held that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry, and the state started issuing marriage licenses in November 2008.
In April 2009, Iowa and Vermont joined the ranks of states with full marriage equality. Vermont became the first state to enact marriage equality through legislative action when the state legislature overrode a governor’s veto and legalized same-sex marriage in that state. The law went into effect on September 1, 2009.
In May 2009, Maine passed a same-sex marriage bill. Governor Baldacci, who in the past had opposed same-sex marriage, signed it immediately upon its passage in the Senate. Baldacci stated that he had changed his mind about allowing same-sex couples marriage and had come to see it as a “question of fairness and of equal protection under the law” and to believe that “a civil union is not equal to civil marriage.” The bill was scheduled to take effect in September 2009 but was stayed pending a November ballot measure. The voters of Maine repealed marriage equality on November 3, 2009, and Maine returned to being a “marriage lite” state, where same-sex couples have some of the rights of marriage but don’t share equal rights with opposite-sex couples.
In June 2009, the New Hampshire legislature passed a same-sex marriage bill. Though Governor John Lynch personally opposes gay marriage, because religious groups were not required to officiate same-sex ceremonies or provide other services, he signed the bill into law the same day. “Today, we are standing up for the liberties of same-sex couples by making clear that they will receive the same rights, responsibilities — and respect — under New Hampshire law,” Lynch said. The bill became effective in January 2010.
In March 2010, same-sex marriage became legal in D.C. after the city council’s vote went through a Congressional approval period without a glitch.
A number of states, including New York and Maryland, now explicitly recognize same-sex marriage entered into in the states that allow them.
Same-Sex Marriage in Durham
Regardless of the current same-sex marriage legislation, gay couple still need representation when they terminate a relationship. The are question of division of assets and child custody that still need to be addressed.
An experience Durham family law lawyer can advise your best interest when you decide to end your same-sex marriage.