US: First same-sex couples marry in North Carolina after marriage ban struck down

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The first same-sex couples have married in North Carolina, after a judge struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

US District Court Judge Max Cogburn ruled yesterday evening that the state’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman was unconstitutional.

His ruling came after the Supreme Court earlier this week refused to hear a number of equal marriage cases, speeding up the process in some remaining states, while the state’s Attorney General will no longer seek to defend the ban.

Judge Coburn wrote: “North Carolina’s laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are unconstitutional as a matter of law.

“The issue before this court is neither a political issue nor a moral issue. It is a legal issue.”

Attorney General Roy Cooper confirmed in a statement that he would recognise same-sex marriage across the state, as all legal means of opposition have been ‘exhausted’.

Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger kept his office open late last night to marry the scores of same-sex couples waiting to wed.

He told CBS: “It’s a historical day for the state of North Carolina. It’s autumn in Asheville and it’s a beautiful time to get married.”

The ruling comes after a bumper week for marriage equality, with the number of states recognising marriage rising rapidly from 19 on Monday, to nearly 30 following the Supreme Court decision, rulings in Nevada and Idaho, and the North Carolina ruling.

It is expected to rise even higher over the coming weeks, as the Supreme Court decision impacts across a number of lower courts.

Watch a couple marry in Wake County below: