North Carolina Strikes Down Gay Marriage Ban

A federal judge in Asheville struck down the gay marriage ban in North Carolina on Friday, allowing same-sex partners  to get married immediately.

U.S. District Court Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. issued the decision shortly after 5 p.m. declaring the 2012 voter-approved ban unconstitutional, the Associated Press reported. The ruling came days after the Supreme Court announced that it would not entertain further appeals on a July 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision by striking down Virginia’s ban.

“North Carolina’s laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are unconstitutional as a matter of law,” Cogburn wrote. “The issue before this court is neither a political issue nor a moral issue. It is a legal issue.”

Drew Reisinger, head of the Buncombe County Register of Deeds, kept his office open until the evening to begin issuing marriage licenses to waiting couples as soon as the ban was overturned. The crowd gathered in the lobby erupted in cheers when they heard the news.

“It’s a historical day for the state of North Carolina,” Reisinger said. “It’s autumn in Asheville and it’s a beautiful time to get married.”

In a separate Associated Press report,  Amy Cantrell and Lauren White went out of a county office with their newly-released marriage license and exchanged vows on the front steps together, carrying their 8-month old twins.

Because of the chaos right after the announcement, it is not known who was the first same-sex couple married in the state, regardless who they were, thousands of same-sex partners will now enjoy the benefits and recognition of being a married couple in the state.

“We’ve been waiting for this day for years,” Cantrell said.

On the same day, the Supreme Court approved same-sex marriage in Idaho, USA Today reported.

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