North Carolina Is Trying To Re-Ban Same-Sex Marriage

by Chris Tognotti
Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Back in 2015, legal same-sex marriage became the law of the land, thanks to the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. And in the years since, while some counties have fought dead-end battles to escape having to enact the ruling, the vast majority of places have come to understand what marriage equality proponents argued all along: respecting same-sex expressions of love and commitment is nothing to freak out about. And yet, here comes the Tar Heel state ― North Carolina is trying to ban same-sex marriage again, because apparently the state that brought us the anti-trans House Bill 2 is worried about looking too humane.

Yup, you read that right. If it seemed like basically nobody was harmed by allowing gay, lesbian, and bisexual couples to legally wed ― precisely the opposite of what its opponents strenuously (and very unconvincingly) argued in court for years, you're on to something.

But regardless, legislators in the North Carolina House of Representatives decided to introduce a bill re-illegalizing same-sex marriage, citing the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in their rationale for doing so. The notion that individual states can prohibit same-sex marriage via the Tenth Amendment was one of the issues at question in Obergefell, and needless to say, it did not hold. Simply put, the ruling is in, and this current North Carolina entire effort is unconstitutional on its face, at least unless the Supreme Court someday returns to the issue and rules otherwise.

Which, of course, raises a pretty simple question: why waste everyone's time? The authors of the bill are representatives Larry Pittman, Carl Ford, and Michael Speciale, a trio of Republicans, and they must surely know that even if it were passed by the state senate, it would be vetoed by Governor Roy Cooper, a first-term Democrat who entered office this year.

Cooper partially ran on the promise to repeal the state's controversial and offensive anti-trans law. And while the ultimate compromise repeal he worked out with the state GOP has been roundly and hotly criticized, it's plain as day that he's not going to have any interest in stripping marriage rights from LGBTQ North Carolinians.

In short, this looks like a case of some conservative legislators embracing an outdated brand of culture war politics, striving endlessly to reduce people's family lives to something stigmatized and shameful. Fortunately, there's absolutely no reason to think it'll work, nor that it would stand up against the Supreme Court's 2015 ruling even if it did. But let this be a lesson to you: in North Carolina, the Republican Party really knows how to make a bad situation just a little bit worse.