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Same-sex couples in NC await gay marriage court decisions - Greenville, NC | News | Weather | Sports - WNCT.com

Same-sex couples in NC await gay marriage court decisions

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Joni Madison (left), Gina Kilpatrick (right) Joni Madison (left), Gina Kilpatrick (right)
DURHAM, N.C. -

As the United States Supreme Court hears arguments over same-sex marriage, gay and lesbian couples in North Carolina are paying close attention.  That includes Joni Madison and Gina Kilpatrick.

"It's very nerve-wracking about the Supreme Court," said Joni Madison.

Madison and her partner Gina Kilpatrick have been a couple for just shy of 19 years and considered themselves married already, but they're holding out to make their union official in their home state of North Carolina.

"It would be a very happy day to know that we could  -- that it was a possibility," Kilpatrick said. "So I can imagine it would add to the great life that we already have."

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday over the constitutionality of a voter-approved gay marriage ban in California known as Proposition 8. Wednesday, the SCOTUS will ask itself the same question about the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

"It's about whether we're going to treat everybody equally under the law," North Carolina American Civil Liberties Union legal director Chris Brook said.

Brook hopes justices overturn DOMA and Prop 8, but says neither decision would likely have a direct impact on North Carolina's very own gay marriage ban. Voters passed Amendment One -- an amendment defining marriage specifically as between a man and a woman -- last year.

"But it would certainly continue the momentum that we've been seeing legally toward equality for our gay and lesbian friends and neighbors," Brook said.

It's a momentum opponents of same-sex marriage want the high court to stop.

"We're looking at the question of protecting the institution of marriage," Jere Royall, counsel for the North Carolina Family Policy Council, said.

"The purpose of the institution of marriage is to attach mothers and fathers to their children and to each other," Royall said.

But Madison and Kilpatrick say, for them, it's not about starting a family. Getting married is about finally getting legal recognition for the love they share.

"It was inconceivable to be out in high school. It was inconceivable to be out at work until about 20 years ago," Madison said.

"It really would be an incredible day...that we could be recognized for the love and relationship that we have."

Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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