Just three years ago, North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment stating that the state could not recognize or perform same-sex marriages or civil unions. Last October, a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals struck down that decision, making same sex marriages or civil unions legal. Today, the Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage legal nationwide.
History of Same Sex Marriage in North Carolina
Timeline by Bryan Anderson.
The decision came after a 5-4 vote and means that bans on same-sex marriage in 14 states will be struck down.
Thirty-six states, including North Carolina, had already legalized same-sex marriage but many believed the issue should have been handled at the state level. In June, the Elon University Poll found that 54% of North Carolina respondents believed it should be up to the states to decide whether or not to recognize same-sex marriage.
Assistant Director of the Elon Poll, Jason Husser, said he's interested to see how this ruling will affect opinions in the next poll.
"North Carolina is just a conglomeration of people. Some people are going to be more resistant to gay marriage just because of how this decision was done [through a Supreme Court ruling]," he said, "It'll be interesting in our next poll in September to see where it stands."
This is the second time the Supreme Court ruled on same-sex marriage. Two years ago, SCOTUS made a 5-4 decision to strike down the down the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied same-sex couples the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.
Matthew Antonio Bosch, the director of the Gender and LGBTQIA Center at Elon, says this decision is a milestone, but also that there is more to be done for the LGBTQIA community, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual.
"This is massive, there is no doubt," Bosch said, "However, we still have a lot of additional issues to work on including access to employment, freedom from violence and increasing job protections."
Bosch also said that while this is a time for him and the LGBTQIA community to celebrate, he also hopes that they can use the decision to bring attention to the other issues,
"Violence is still very real for our communities, and I hope we can take time to both celebrate the milestone this is, and use the power and privilege of this moment to open doors and enact change in ways that positively impact our people who fight every day for their lives, just to be who the LGBTQIA individuals that they are," he said.
To celebrate the ruling, Equality NC, a political advocacy group, has planned and promoted "Decision Day" gatherings in a number of cities across the state, including Greensboro.
Greensboro resident, David Farris, from the local advocacy group the Guilford Green Foundation, helped put together a "Takeover" at 1618 bar in downtown Greensboro to celebrate the ruling with other members of gay and lesbian community.
"We wanted to be surrounded by our friends who have fought the fight with us," he said.
Rob Overman, who was in attendance at the event, said that while same sex marriage has been legal in North Carolina for eight months, the Supreme Court decision makes the law seem final.
"My partner and I haven't been legally married yet and one of the reasons for that is we didn't want to get married only to have it taken away at a later date," he said. "So for us it kind of removes that fear and it kind of frees us up to do what we want to do now without worrying that the rug is going to be pulled out from under us."
Bryan Anderson and Jackie Pascale also contributed to this report.