North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said on Monday that his office would stop defending the state’s gay marriage ban in court after an appeals court struck down a similar ban on same sex marriage in Virginia.
“Our attorneys have vigorously defended North Carolina’s marriage law, which is their job,” Cooper, a Democrat, told reporters. “Today we know our law almost surely will be overturned as well. Simply put, it’s time to stop making arguments we will lose, and instead move forward knowing that the ultimate resolution will likely come from the United States Supreme Court.”
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Virginia’s ban on gay marriage violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause. The ruling itself — which doesn’t take effect just yet — only applies to Virginia, but the circuit decision sets a strong precedent for gay marriage in courts in North Carolina and the multiple other states it covers.
“[The ruling] does predict that our law will be struck down,” Cooper said, arguing that continuing to defend the gay marriage ban in court would be “futile” because “judges in North Carolina are bound by the opinion.”
Cooper, who is considering a run for governor in 2016, said his decision had nothing to do with his personal views on same sex marriage. The attorney general said last year he supports same sex marriage but promised his views wouldn’t interfere with his job of defending North Carolina’s constitutional amendment against it, according to The Associated Press.
Various legal challenges to North Carolina’s gay marriage ban are pending in court, and Cooper said that “the state of North Carolina will not oppose the cases moving forward.”