A North Carolina group opposed to gay marriage has filed an Amicus Brief with the US Supreme Court. The move puts North Carolina's gay marriage ban back squarely in spotlight. Last May, North Carolinians went to the polls to vote on Amendment One, which would effectively ban gay marriage in the state's constitution. Tami Fitzgerald is Executive Director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, the group that spearheaded the effort to pass the amendment.
Tami Fitzgerald: "And 61 percent of the voters in North Carolina voted for the marriage amendment."
Now two laws concerning same-sex marriage are before the Supreme Court. It's unclear whether they'll impact North Carolina or not, but Fitzgerald says the group didn't want to take any chances.
Fitzgerald: "We're not sure what the impact will be on North Carolina's amendment yet. But we wanted to ensure that the court heard the North Carolina perspective on its own definition of marriage. Our Attorney General Roy Cooper did not file a brief to defend the laws of the state of North Carolina, so we felt it was important that the Supreme Court heard from someone in the state of North Carolina about the amendment in our state. The brief is just insurance to make sure that the court hears the viewpoint of the voters in North Carolina, who clearly voted last spring to support marriage as the union of one man and one woman."
The main group opposing the amendment, Equality North Carolina, says the ban hurts gay couples. Jen Jones is their Communications Director. She says it's true that states have historically defined marriage.
Jen Jones: "But there are constitutional limits to what the people can say we can do. And there is a fundamental right to marry. Everyone today knows the case of Loving vs. Virginia, which struck down a ban on interracial marriage that had been upheld by states. And it concluded that the constitutional right to marry protects an individual's choice of marital partner, without any mention of gender. And every poll we've seen, every major public opinion poll in the country and the majority of the American people believe we should strike down DOMA, that all couples, same-gender couples included, should have the freedom to marry. That's a lesson shared by legal precedent, history, as well as our president's own very powerful words just weeks ago during the inauguration. We believe and believe the Supreme Court will find that discrimination against gay and lesbian people.... Same-gender couples throughout North Carolina and the country are vulnerable minority groups, and that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, and Proposition 8 are presumptively unconstitutional and hope that the Supreme Court will remain on the right side of history by striking them down."
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear both cases in late March.
Click the audio file to hear the full interviews with North Carolina Values Coalition Executive Director Tami Fitzgerald and Equality North Carolina Communications Director Jen Jones (comes in at 10:30 in the file).