Faith leaders, politicians and lawyers across North Carolina on Wednesday (June 26) expressed strong opinions for or against the Supreme Court’s vote dismantling the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
While faith leaders who define marriage as between a man and woman were disappointed, one thing is certain – the current ruling won’t affect North Carolina’s constitutional marriage amendment just yet.
“However, there is a lot of language in Justice Kennedy’s DOMA opinion that is helpful to gay rights advocates – language that can be invoked in future gay rights advocacy in North Carolina,” said Holning Lau, president of the NC ACLU and UNC law professor. “Justice Kennedy’s opinion contains a lot of language that affirms the dignity of gay and lesbian relationships,” for instance, using the word “dignity” nine times.
READ the entire Supreme Court opinion here.
The Rev. Mark Creech, leader of the conservative Raleigh-based Christian Action League, called the decision: “one of the saddest days in our nation’s history.” He blamed inaction on the part of churches for the ruling in favor of same-sex marriage today.
“Make no mistake, these rulings were a major boost for those seeking to redefine marriage and unquestionably provide the legal foundation for them to do it,” he wrote in a statement. “For too many years, churches have been largely disengaged from the political process, and now we are seeing the fruits of that disengagement.”
SEE a map of other states with marriage amendments here.
UNC LGBT family law professor Maxine Eichner believes the move could open North Carolina for a federal challenge to its Amendment One.
“It’s so important and significant because it recognizes that same-sex marriage has constitutional implications,” she said.
Aaron Marshall, director of University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Ratio Christi, a Christian apologetics chapter, is already thinking ahead about how to discuss the ruling with students.
“From a Christian perspective, it’s about how do I say the things I believe the Bible says about marriage and homosexuality without seeming to say ‘I hate you,’” he said. “It’s about loving people as a person, even if we disagree but still making sure our message of Christ gets out there.”
Diocese of Raleigh Bishop Michael Burbidge, who led a video campaign about the Catholic marriage teachings prior to the Amendment One vote last year, said he was “gravely disappointed.”
“The decision of the Court will contribute to the unraveling of what has been a vital cornerstone of our society, the protection of the rights and responsibilities of husbands and wives to one another and to the children they bring into the world,” he said in a statement. “I also ask that you pray that whatever divisions may have occurred or will occur as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, may be healed by the grace of God and a mutual renewed commitment by all people of good will, so that we may together build a society reflective of the unity that is ours as members of God's family.”
In Wilmington, some gathered to celebrate the ruling Wednesday night at a candlelight vigil and “kazoo party” at the 1898 Memorial downtown.
The members of the Rev. John McLaughlin’s St. Jude Metropolitan Community Church, a gay-affirming congregation, were rejoicing, too. He said the ruling coming just before the MCC’s world conference in Chicago made it even more special.
“I am personally ecstatic,” he said. “It’s great to see the oppressed are receiving good news, the captives are being set free, and justice is once again flowing like a river.”