LGBT rights in North Carolina

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
LGBT rights in North Carolina
North Carolina (USA)
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 2003
Gender identity/expression Altering sex on birth certificate requires sex reassignment surgery
Discrimination protections None statewide
Family rights
Recognition of
None statewide
North Carolina Amendment 1 limits marriage to man/woman, places restrictions on non-marriage types of same-sex unions
Adoption Joint adoption and stepparent adoption illegal

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. Same-sex couples and families headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for all the protections available to opposite-sex married couples.

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The state's sodomy law, though unenforceable, has not been repealed.[4]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

North Carolina recognizes neither same-sex marriages nor any other form of legal recognition of same sex-unions. The state bans same-sex marriage and all other types of same-sex unions both by statute and by constitutional amendment.

North Carolina affords hospital visitation rights to same-sex couples though a designated visitor statute.[5]

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.[6]

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:[7]

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.

Fisher-Borne v. Smith[edit]

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.[8]

Local domestic partnership registration[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

Two North Carolina towns, both in Orange County, North Carolina, have recognized and issued domestic partner registrations since 1995: Carrboro and Chapel Hill. Such registrations are recognized only by the issuing jurisdiction. In Chapel Hill, registration is open to all applicants regardless of residency.[9] Registration in Carrboro is available to local residents only.[10] In addition, three cities offer domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples: Asheville,[11] Greensboro, and Durham. The counties of Durham, Orange, Mecklenburg, and Buncombe also offer these benefits.[12][13][14]

Public opinion[edit]

Elon University and Public Policy Polling have provided survey results on a regular basis for several years. A March 2009 Elon University Poll survey found that 20.8% of North Carolina voters supported same-sex marriage, with 27.5% supporting civil unions or partnerships but not marriage, and 44.4% favoring no legal recognition.[15] The results of its April 2013 survey found that 43.2% of North Carolina residents support same-sex marriage, while 45.9% opposed it.[16] A September 2011 survey by Public Policy Polling found that 31% of North Carolina voters thought same-sex marriage should be legal, while 61% thought it should be illegal.[17] Its February 2013 survey found that 38% of North Carolina voters thought that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 54% thought it should be illegal.[18]

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.[19] 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.[20] In 2013 they amended their suit to challenge the constitutionality of the state's denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples.[8]

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 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.[21] The towns of Boone,[22] Carrboro,[23] and Chapel Hill[24] and Orange County[25] all have laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, while the cities of Raleigh and Charlotte have laws prohibiting 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.[26]

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".[27]

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.[28]

See also[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". 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. ^ "Hospital Visitation Rights". Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  6. ^ "Senate Bill 514 / S.L. 2011-409". NCGA website. North Carolina General Assembly. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  7. ^ "Marriage Amendment passes in North Carolina by double-digits," The McDowell News,, 9 May 2012, accessed 9 May 2012
  8. ^ a b "Gay marriage cases in 5 states offer broad view". Washington Post. January 16, 2014. Retrieved January 20, 2014. 
  9. ^ Town of Chapel Hill: Domestic Partnership, accessed June 28, 2011
  10. ^ Human Rights Campaign: City and County Domestic Partner Registries, accessed June 28, 2011
  11. ^ "City Clerk". City of Asheville. Retrieved April 4, 2012. "On Feb. 22 [2011], City Council authorized the creation of a Domestic Partner Registry to recognize same-sex relationships." 
  12. ^ Juffras, Diane M., “May North Carolina Local Government Employers Offer Domestic Partner Benefits?” November 2009.
  13. ^ Comer, Matt. QNotes, “Mecklenburg Commissioners Approve DP Benefits,” Dec 16, 2009.
  14. ^ "North Carolina Family Policy Council: Buncombe Domestic Partner Benefits". CitizenLink. March 26, 2013. Retrieved May 8, 2012. "Buncombe County is now the fourth county in North Carolina to offer domestic partner benefits to the unmarried opposite sex and same-sex partners of county employees. In a 4 to 3 vote on March 19, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners approved a policy that "extends benefits and leave policy coverage to same and opposite sex domestic partners" to employees of Buncombe County. The benefits include health insurance, life insurance and family leave benefits allowed by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act." 
  15. ^ Elon University Poll: "Majority of N.C. residents oppose constitutional ban on same-sex marriage" September 30, 2011 , accessed May 8, 2013
  16. ^ Elon University Poll: "Elon Poll: N.C. residents oppose several legislative proposals" 4/17/2013, accessed May 8, 2013
  17. ^ Public Policy Polling: "NC opposes marriage amendment" September 07, 2011, accessed April 6, 2013
  18. ^ Public Policy Polling: "McCrory Disapproval Worsens" February 13, 2013, accessed April 6, 2013
  19. ^ Family Law Prof Blog, "Second Parent Adoption Struck Down by North Carolina Supreme Court," December 22, 2010, accessed June 15, 2012
  20. ^ New York Daily News: "ACLU sues North Carolina over same-sex adoption ban," June 14, 2012, accessed June 15, 2012
  21. ^ Human Rights Campaign: North Carolina Non-Discrimination Law, accessed June 28, 2011
  22. ^ "Town of Boone Personnel Policy". Town of Boone. Retrieved May 2, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Application for Employment". Town of Carrboro. Retrieved May 2, 2012. 
  24. ^ "General Policies". Town of Chapel Hill. Retrieved March 22, 2012. 
  25. ^ "Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO)". Orange County. Retrieved May 2, 2012. 
  26. ^ "Policy on Student Conduct". University of North Carolina. Retrieved May 23, 2013. 
  27. ^ "North Carolina – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Documentation of Discrimination". UCLA School of Law. September 2009. Retrieved May 23, 2013. 
  28. ^ Human Rights Campaign: North Carolina Hate Crimes Law, accessed June 28, 2011