Absent action by the US Supreme Court today, same-sex couples may begin to wed in the State of Virginia beginning tomorrow, Thursday, August 21st. The imminent legality of same-sex marriages in Virginia is the result of the ruling made last week by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals that the court would not place a hold on its July 28th ruling invalidating Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriages while the case is appealed to the US Supreme Court.
Although North Carolina is part of the same federal judicial circuit as Virginia, the ruling by the 4th Circuit Court on VA’s same-sex marriage ban does not invalidate NC’s ban on same-sex marriage. But, because the VA and NC same-sex marriage bans are so similar, the decision invalidating the VA law leaves little doubt that NC’s law will eventually be declared unconstitutional. This could occur either by a ruling on one of four lawsuits challenging the NC law currently pending in federal courts in this state or by a ruling from the US Supreme Court. It is possible that the US Supreme Court will soon agree to hear an appeal of the VA case or a similar case recently decided in Utah. But, a ruling from the Supreme Court would not be likely until mid-2015 or possibly not until 2016.
While a Supreme Court ruling invalidating same-sex marriage bans across the US seems imminent to many, it is not certain. And, same-sex couples who seek the same rights afforded to married heterosexual couples and their families would be wise to execute those legal documents that can provide some of the same rights achieved through marriage—such as Wills, Health Care Powers of Attorney, Durable Powers of Attorney, and Parenting Agreements.
For more information, ask the attorneys at Sodoma Law.