The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday June 29th

Winston-Salem includes same-sex couples

Winston-Salem is believed to be the first city in North Carolina to extend marriage benefits to gay and lesbian couples and their families who were married out of state, according to a press release.

In a meeting today, a city council committee will consider extending benefits to city employees in domestic partnerships, a move other cities in the state — including Durham, Chapel Hill and Carrboro — have already made .

North Carolina’s constitutional ban on gay marriage makes it illegal for the state to recognize same-sex marriages and civil unions.

Carmen Caruth, Winston-Salem’s director of human resources, said in a letter sent to city employees Aug. 28 that the decision will go into effect immediately, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. The city has coordinated a special enrollment period for qualified employees to enroll, which will end Oct. 31.

The Asheville-based advocacy group Campaign for Southern Equality issued a statement Monday applauding Winston-Salem’s decision.

“It is clear that Amendment One will be ruled unconstitutional, but that day cannot come quickly enough for LGBT families,” said Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the campaign, in the statement.

“In this context, we are particularly inspired by Winston-Salem’s leadership in treating LGBT employees equally.”

It’s not the first time that gay rights advocates in Winston-Salem have taken a public stand on gay marriage. The city’s Green Street United Methodist Church declared in March 2013 that it would not sign any marriage licenses or conduct marriage ceremonies in the church until same-sex marriage was legalized statewide.

The city’s decision to grant benefits to legally married same-sex couples coincides with a number of recent developments concerning gay marriage in North Carolina.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in July that Virginia’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional, which could provide a legal precedent that affects North Carolina’s ban, though the decision has been put on hold by the U.S. Supreme Court.

State Attorney General Roy Cooper said after the ruling that he would no longer defend North Carolina’s gay marriage ban.


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