Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage: How is NC affected? - Greenville, NC | News | Weather | Sports - WNCT.com

Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage: How is NC affected?

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"It's very rare that we really get to witness history," Aaron Lucier says.

With two landmark Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage, Aaron Lucier says he and his partner of 15 years are one step closer to equality.

"It's nice to know there's the potential in the near future that the federal government will recognize our relationship for all the benefits that means," Lucier says.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which means legally married same-sex couples in 12 states will now be able to receive tax, health and pension benefits.

In the Proposition 8 ruling, the court declined to say whether there is a constitutional right to gay marriage, which means state bans - like Amendment One in North Carolina - remain intact.

But political expert Brad Lockerbie says it's too soon to tell how far reaching the DOMA changes will be.

"As it stands right now, North Carolina doesn't have to recognize {same-sex} marriage," he says. "But the courts haven't said what happens to the federal benefits that couple has when they move to North Carolina once their marriage has been recognized as such by the federal government."

It's a complex situation that has people in Eastern North Carolina divided.

"The Bible says man and woman should marry," says Greenville resident Mary Bivens. "And I feel like we're just making too many changes."

Kim Speight, another Greenville resident, disagrees, "If you're going to allow people of the same sex to get married, then they should have the same benefits and the same rights as a man and a woman."

As for Lucier, he's disappointed nothing will immediately change in his home state, but says he's hopeful for the future.

"I think it's going to be hard work," he says. "But we're going to move forward on it and it's only a matter of time, especially now that there are federal benefits."

--- Original Story ---

The Supreme Court struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

That act kept gay couples, who were allowed to marry in certain states, from getting federal benefits.

Wednesday, The Supreme Court ruled legally married same-sex couples should get the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.

The vote was 5-4.

In another same-sex marriage decision today, the court also overturned California's Proposition 8. Prop 8 is a law that banned same-sex marriage in California.

California government officials who would normally defend the law in court, didn't. So proponents of the law stepped in to defend it.

The Supreme Court ruled that those proponents do not have the legal right to defend the law. The court sent the case back to the U.S. Court of Appeals with instructions to dismiss the case.

All told, the Supreme Court ruled legally married same-sex couples are eligible for federal benefits, but it is not necessarily a constitutional right for same-sex couples to have the right to marry. That decision still lies with state governments.

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