As Same-Sex Marriage Becomes Legal, Opinions In North Carolina Are Mixed

As Same-Sex Marriage Becomes Legal, Opinions In North Carolina Are Mixed

6:27pm Jun 26, 2015


The nation's highest court legalized same-sex marriage Friday. Same-sex marriage was already permitted in North Carolina, due to a federal court ruling that overturned the state's ban last fall. Still, reaction to the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision is varied and emotions are running high.

Wake Forest University rising junior Sebastian Ivory is doing a congressional internship on Capitol Hill this summer. He was outside of the Supreme Court when the decision was handed down, and says it’s a moment in history he’ll never forget.

“I saw people cry tears of joy this morning. I saw people jump up and down celebrating. I saw lots of hugs, kisses and just joy among everyone in the community,” he says. “I feel like D.C. is on a cloud right now.”  

It was several hours after the Court's decision that people in Winston-Salem trickled into a noontime event at Bailey Park. Food trucks gathered in a small court and hungry lunch-goers like Nancy Long says she had just received a text from her family, telling her that she could now get married in all 50 states.

"[I'm] extremely happy. It’s a shame that in this day and age that we have to fight for such a right, but I’m really glad that they really came through for us," says Long.

Winston-Salem residents Guillermo Toruno and his wife, Kristin, pushed a stroller through the crowd. He says he's a Catholic who believes in social justice and that marriage equality is long overdue. The couple says that the Supreme Court's decision was welcome news as they begin to raise their one-month old son. 

"We just kind of looked at each other and said ‘how amazing is this that he’s going to grow up in a world and he’s not going to know any different? That everyone can love whoever they want and marry whoever they want and that’s just the way it is.'" says Kristin Turono.

But the Supreme Court’s decision leaves Nicholas Chase a little unsettled. He says he’s a Christian and this is a fundamental change.  

"I think the ruling itself is encouraging people to change the definition of marriage, which has historically been one way for two thousand years at least," says Chase. 

Tami Fitzgerald is the executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition. She says the Supreme Court is playing God with the definition of marriage. And now that the court has ruled same-sex marriage legal, the group will work to protect North Carolinian’s religious liberties.

“We’re going to press for some legislative reform like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that will guarantee the rights of all North Carolinians to live and work according to their beliefs,” she says.

She says the court’s ruling will make it easier to pass religious freedom legislation because people will see the threats more clearly.

Advocates for gay rights also say there's more work to do. Chris Sgro with Equality North Carolina says Friday’s 5 -4 ruling represents the culmination of decades of work to build a broad-based acceptance of same-sex marriage. But he says gay and transgendered people in North Carolina still don’t have full equality.

“We’re one of the thirty-some states where you can be married legally and then fired for being gay or transgendered the very next day,” he says.  “So that is the next critical step to make sure people are protected in the workplace and other facets of their lives.”




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