LGBT rights in North Carolina

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LGBT rights in North Carolina
North Carolina (USA)
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 2003
(Lawrence v. Texas)
Gender identity/expression Altering sex on birth certificate requires sex reassignment surgery
Discrimination protections None statewide
Family rights
Recognition of
relationships
Yes (marriage)
Adoption Yes

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the U.S. state of North Carolina face some legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in North Carolina. The state has recognized same-sex marriage since October 10, 2014.

Laws regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas (2003) held laws criminalizing consensual homosexual activity between adults unconstitutional.[1]

In State v. Whiteley (2005), the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled that the crime against nature statute, N.C. G.S. § 14-177,[2] is not unconstitutional on its face because it may properly be used to criminalize sexual conduct involving minors, non-consensual or coercive conduct, public conduct, and prostitution.[3]

The state's sodomy law, though unenforceable, has not been repealed.[4]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Marriage[edit]

North Carolina has recognized same-sex marriages since October 14, 2014, when a federal court decision found the state's denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples unconstitutional. The state formerly banned same-sex marriage and all other types of same-sex unions both by statute and by constitutional amendment until the ban was overturned by a federal court decision.

North Carolina had previously denied marriage rights to same-sex couples by statute since 1996. A state constitutional amendment that was approved in 2012 reinforced that by defining marriage between a man and a woman as the only valid "domestic legal union" in the state and denying recognition to any similar legal status, such as civil unions.

Constitutional ban[edit]

County-level results of the vote on Amendment 1, amending the N.C. state Constitution to ban legal recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions.

In September 2011, the North Carolina General Assembly passed North Carolina Senate Bill 514 (2011) which put an amendment banning any form of same-sex unions on the primary election ballot in May 2012. The measure passed on a vote of 30-16 in the state Senate and a vote of 74-42 in the state House.[5]

Voters approved the amendment by 61% to 39% on May 8, 2012. North Carolina was the 30th state, and the last of the former Confederate states, to adopt a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The amendment added to Section XVI of the North Carolina Constitution:[6]

Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.

Lawsuits[edit]

General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Cooper

On April 28, 2014, the United Church of Christ and other religious organizations filed General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Cooper, arguing that North Carolina's statute that makes it a crime to preside at the solemnization of the marriage of a couple that lacks a valid state marriage license unconstitutionally restricts religious freedom.[7] On October 10, District Court Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. ruled the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.[8]

Fisher-Borne v. Smith and Gerber v. Cooper

On June 13, 2012, six same-sex couples filed a federal lawsuit, Fisher-Borne v. Smith, that initially sought the right to obtain second-parent adoptions. In July 2013, following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor in June, they amended their suit to challenge the constitutionality of the state's denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples.[9] Briefing was completed on August 13, 2014.[10] On April 9, 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union filed Gerber v. Cooper in the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, seeking state recognition of same-sex marriages established outside of North Carolina. Plaintiffs are three couples: Ginter-Mejia and Esmeralda Mejia, Jane Blackburn and Lyn McCoy, Pearl Berlin and Ellen W. Gerber. A judge has not yet been assigned in this case.[11] On October 14, U.S. District Judge William Osteen ruled for the plaintiffs.[12]

Domestic partnership[edit]

Map of North Carolina counties and cities that offer domestic partner benefits either county-wide or in particular cities.
  City offers domestic partner benefits
  County-wide partner benefits through domestic partnership
  County or city does not offer domestic partner benefits

The counties of Durham,[13] Orange,[14] Mecklenburg,[15] and Buncombe,[16] the cities of Durham,[17] Greensboro,[18] Asheville,[16] Charlotte,[19] and the towns of Carrboro,[20] Chapel Hill,[21] have established domestic partnership registries.

Hospital visitation[edit]

In 2008, the North Carolina General Assembly added a provision to the Patients’ Bill of Rights affording hospital visitation rights to same-sex couples though a designated visitor statute.[22]

Adoption rights[edit]

Some lower courts allowed second-parent adoptions until the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled 5-2 in 2010 in the case of Boseman v. Jarell that the state law did not permit adoption by a second unmarried person irrespective of the sex of those involved.[23] The plaintiff in that case was Julia Boseman, first openly gay member of the state legislature. On June 13, 2012, 11 same-sex couples sued several state and local officials in federal court seeking second-parent adoption rights.[24] In 2013 they amended their suit to challenge the constitutionality of the state's denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples.[25] On October 14, U.S. District Judge William Osteen ruled for the plaintiffs.[12]

Discrimination protection[edit]

Map of North Carolina counties and cities that have sexual orientation and/or gender identity anti–employment discrimination ordinances
  Sexual orientation and gender identity with anti–employment discrimination ordinance
  Sexual orientation and gender identity solely in public employment
  Sexual orientation in public employment
  Does not protect sexual orientation and gender identity in employment

North Carolina outlaws discrimination based on religion, color, national origin, age, sex or handicap, but not sexual orientation or gender identity.[26]

The counties of Buncombe,[27] Mecklenburg,[28] and Orange,[29] the cities of Asheville[29] and Charlotte[30] and the towns of Boone,[29] Carrboro,[29] Chapel Hill,[29] Greensboro,[29][31] and Raleigh[29][32] prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The counties of Durham[29] and Guilford[29] along with the cities of Bessemer City,[29] Durham,[33] High Point,[29] and Winston-Salem[29] prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation only.

The University of North Carolina system, which comprises North Carolina's 16 public universities, has established a policy of non-discrimination with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and for students.[34]

Appalachian State University, Fayetteville State University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina at Asheville, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and University of North Carolina at Pembroke have established non-discrimination policies that cover sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and admissions.[citation needed] East Carolina University, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Western Carolina University, and Winston-Salem State University have established non-discrimination policies that cover sexual orientation in employment and admissions.[citation needed] Elizabeth City State University is the only public university in North Carolina that has not established a non-discrimination policy in respect to either sexual orientation or gender identity for employees or students.

The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency has a policy which provides "all employees and applicants for employment with equal employment opportunities, without regard to race, color, religion, creed, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, political affiliation, or any other protected status".[35]

On June 26, 2014, the North Carolina House of Representatives passed by a 115-0 vote for an amendment to bill that prohibits discrimination in charter schools on the basis of any "category protected under the United States Constitution or under federal law applicable to the states." The amendment was later removed in the North Carolina State Senate and not included in the final bill signed into law.[36][37][38]

Hate crime laws[edit]

North Carolina's hate crimes statute covers race, color, religion, nationality or country of origin, but neither sexual orientation nor gender identity.[39]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ New York Times: "Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Law Banning Sodomy," June 26, 2003, accessed June 28, 2011
  2. ^ "G.S. § 14-177". Ncga.state.nc.us. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  3. ^ State of North Carolina v. Gregory Paul Whiteley, Retrieved May 24, 2013
  4. ^ Chibbaro Jr., Lou (April 17, 2013). "Sodomy laws remain on books in 17 states, including Md. and Va.". Washington Blade. Retrieved May 24, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Senate Bill 514 / S.L. 2011-409". NCGA website. North Carolina General Assembly. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "Marriage Amendment passes in North Carolina by double-digits," The McDowell News, mcdowellnews.com, 9 May 2012, accessed 9 May 2012
  7. ^ "North Carolina's Gay-Marriage Ban Is Challenged by Church". New York Times. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  8. ^ Snow, Justin (October 10, 2014). "Federal judge strikes down North Carolina same-sex marriage ban". Metro Weekly. Retrieved October 10, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Gay marriage cases in 5 states offer broad view". Washington Post. January 16, 2014. Retrieved January 20, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Pending Marriage Equality Cases: North Carolina". Retrieved August 24, 2014. 
  11. ^ "GERBER et al v. COOPER et al". Justia.com. April 9, 2014. Retrieved August 23, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "Order Enjoining North Carolina from enforcing marriage bans.". U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. Retrieved October 14, 2014. 
  13. ^ "9:00 A.M. Worksession - Agenda". Durham County Government. September 2, 2003. Retrieved April 4, 2012. In conjunction with the County Attorney's legal opinion that only same-sex domestic partner benefits can be offered to County employees without the violation of the Commissioners' oaths of office, the Human Resources Department has completed the actions necessary to make this offering possible. 
  14. ^ "Orange County, NC To Offer Partner Benefits". December 1, 2003. Archived from the original on April 21, 2012. 
  15. ^ "North Carolina County Passes Domestic Partner Benefits Despite Defamatory Comments from Commissioner Bill James". Archived from the original (PDF) on April 21, 2012. 
  16. ^ a b "North Carolina Family Policy Council: Buncombe Domestic Partner Benefits". March 22, 2013. Retrieved June 7, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Durham Votes to Allow Benefits for Domestic Partners". WRAL-TV. April 7, 2003. Archived from the original on April 19, 2012. 
  18. ^ "May North Carolina Local Government Employers Offer Domestic Partner Benefits?" (PDF). University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. November 2009. Retrieved April 4, 2012. In North Carolina, only Durham and Orange counties, the cities of Durham and Greensboro, and the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro offer domestic partner benefits. 
  19. ^ Charlotte council approves domestic partner benefits, scraps capital plan
  20. ^ "Carrboro Town Code: Chapter 3". Archived from the original (PDF) on April 19, 2012.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  21. ^ "Town of Chapel Hill: General Policies". Archived from the original on April 19, 2012. 
  22. ^ State ensures gay hospital visitation rights
  23. ^ Family Law Prof Blog, "Second Parent Adoption Struck Down by North Carolina Supreme Court," December 22, 2010, accessed June 15, 2012
  24. ^ New York Daily News: "ACLU sues North Carolina over same-sex adoption ban," June 14, 2012, accessed June 15, 2012
  25. ^ "Gay marriage cases in 5 states offer broad view". Washington Post. January 16, 2014. Retrieved January 20, 2014. 
  26. ^ Human Rights Campaign: North Carolina Non-Discrimination Law, accessed June 28, 2011
  27. ^ "Personnel Ordinance" (PDF). Buncombe County, North Carolina. August 7, 2012. Retrieved October 16, 2013. Amended 4/16/2013 to include sexual orientation and gender identity 
  28. ^ Comer, Matt (October 16, 2013). "Mecklenburg commissioners vote to add transgender protections". Q-Notes. Retrieved October 16, 2013. 
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "North Carolina – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Documentation of Discrimination" (PDF). UCLA School of Law. September 2009. Retrieved May 25, 2013. 
  30. ^ Comer, Matt (December 14, 2012). "Transgender protections added to Charlotte personnel policy". Q-Notes. Retrieved October 16, 2013. 
  31. ^ Greensboro first in N.C. to OK sexual orientation, gender identity housing protections
  32. ^ "BREAKING: Raleigh Votes to Protect Transgender Workers". Equality NC. October 21, 2014. 
  33. ^ "Recruitment and Selection" (PDF). City of Durham. July 19, 2012. Retrieved May 25, 2013. It is the policy of the City of Durham to assure that equal employment opportunity is afforded to all without regard to [...] sexual orientation 
  34. ^ "Policy on Student Conduct". University of North Carolina. Retrieved May 23, 2013. 
  35. ^ "North Carolina – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Documentation of Discrimination" (PDF). UCLA School of Law. September 2009. Retrieved May 23, 2013. 
  36. ^ Senate Bill 793
  37. ^ Senate Bill 793 / S.L. 2014-101
  38. ^ Charter school bill loses LGBT protections
  39. ^ Human Rights Campaign: North Carolina Hate Crimes Law, accessed June 28, 2011