North Carolina's constitutional ban on gay marriage is no more — giving same-sex couples statewide the freedom to marry immediately and securing legal recognition for gay couples married outside the state.
A federal judge in Asheville ruled today that the ban, known as Amendment One, is unconstitutional. The decision came on the heels of a week of legal tumult surrounding gay marriage in the state.
“This is a historic day for freedom and equality in North Carolina,” said Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the N.C. American Civil Liberties Union, who has helped spearhead the legal campaign against the state's ban. "For countless couples and their children, this victory is nothing short of life changing.”
North Carolina has become the 29th state, plus Washington, D.C., to allow gay marriage nationwide.
Deborah Brook, Orange County's register of deeds, said on Wednesday that the office would be prepared to issue same-sex marriage licenses as soon as the ban was struck down.
Ellen Gerber and Pearl Berlin, one of the couples involved in the ACLU's lawsuits challenging North Carolina's ban, expressed relief that the ban has finally met its end.
"We've been together for 48 years and are so happy that our love and commitment will now finally be recognized in the state we call home," Gerber said.
A week in wait
LGBT advocates statewide have been keeping a close eye on the North Carolina courts since Monday, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review five cases striking down gay marriage bans, allowing those rulings to stand.