Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds J. David Granberry, left, speaks with couple Joey Hewell, center, and Scott Lindsley on Friday as a crowd of media, couples and supporters await a federal judge's order. Photo Credit: Jennifer L. Hogan.

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In a separate same-sex marriage case in North Carolina, Western District Judge Max Cogburn overturned the state’s anti-LGBT marriage ban in an order late Friday afternoon.
Read the most up-to-date story.

U.S. District Court Judge William Osteen denied the Republican state leaders’ request for oral arguments in two cases challenging North Carolina’s anti-LGBT constitutional amendment shortly after 4 p.m. on Friday (Click here for the full order.)

But, Osteen won’t be issuing an order legalizing same-sex marriage today.

In his latest order, Osteen asked same-sex couples who are plaintiffs in the case to submit briefs answering three specific questions by Monday, Oct. 13, 3 p.m. The answers to the questions will help Osteen determine whether the state has any remaining rights to appeal his order to the Fourth Circuit or the Supreme Court and whether Republican state leaders have any standing to intervene.

Following answers to his questions, Osteen intends to rule.

“The parties are advised that this court will proceed to ruling on an order on the motion to intervene and a final order as soon as reasonably possible following receipt of the briefs from Plaintiffs and the State of North Carolina,” Osteen wrote.

Attorneys for state Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger had met Osteen’s noon deadline on Friday to finish their motion to intervene  andanswer same-sex couples’ complaints in a lawsuit challenging the state’s anti-LGBT constitutional amendment. The GOP filed their response to the same-sex couple plaintiffs shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Friday.

In it, the state GOP repeatedly says, “Intervenors lack knowledge or information sufficient to form a basis as to the truth of these allegations,” in response to claims of discrimination and harm caused to same-sex couples.

Additionally, Tillis and Berger are arguing that a 1971-72 federal case, Baker v. Nelson, allows the state of North Carolina to continue discriminating against same-sex couples and tells the court it has no jurisdiction over the current cases.

“Intervenors deny that this Court has subject-matter jurisdiction over this matter,” the GOP’s answer reads. “Intervenors contend that this matter should be dismissed for want of substantial federal question.”

In the Baker case, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling affirming no right to same-sex marriage in Minnesota. Conservative lawyers and activists have often argued the case allows individual states to set their own marriage laws. Other legal experts, though, say last year’s decision in Windsor overrules Baker, applying equal protection to same-sex couples. Every affirmative decision for same-sex marriage since Windsor have said the same.

Osteen had denied the GOP’s request for an eight-day extension late Thursday evening, giving them until noon today to complete their motion to intervene.

Click here to see the full GOP answer (PDF).

Advocates angered at continued delay attempts

A crowd of couples and their supporters, surrounded by local media, gathered throughout the day on Friday as anticipation built for an imminent ruling from Osteen.

Shortly after noon, the crowd was waiting anxiously and pouring over the court’s latest filings orders.

Advocates on the ground had hoped Osteen to make an affirmative ruling on marriage equality and continued to chastise Republican leaders. Their anger grew more palpable after it became clear Osteen would not rule on Friday, blaming Tillis and Berger for the delay.

“North Carolina continues to wait for marriage equality thanks to Thom Tillis and Phil Berger,” Matt Hirschy, director of business engagement and programs at Equality North Carolina, told media shortly before 5 p.m. “North Carolinians will not forget the intentional delay of basic human rights come November. For them to use the tax dollars of hardworking North Carolinians like this is unacceptable.”

Hirschy added, “This undue delay of progress by our elected officials is not only extreme, but at least one pending case also involves imminent health issues. Yet again, Tillis and Berger have delayed and therefore denied our rights.”

State Sen. Jeff Jackson, a Democrat, had come late in the day to stand in support of couples waiting to receive marriage licenses in Charlotte. He accused Republican leaders of using the courts to advance a political agenda.

“Make no mistake, there is no more moral case for maintaining a ban on gay marriage,” Jackson told media. “There is no legal case now that the Supreme Court has ruled for maintaining a ban on gay marriage. What’s happening now is a political case that’s being made through the court.”

Equality NC's Crystal Richardson, center at microphones, speaks to media after Tillis and Berger ask for oral arguments.
Equality NC’s Crystal Richardson, center at microphones, speaks to media after Tillis and Berger ask for oral arguments.

[Ed. Note — This article has been updated to note the correct dates for the Baker case. It was 1971-72, not the previously reported 1981. We regret the error.]

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Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

20 replies on “Judge denies GOP request for oral arguments, but no ruling issued today”

      1. Psst. It was actually 1972. The state supreme court ruled in late 1971, but the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in 1972. It’s the 1972 affirmance that the legislators are citing.

  1. I don’t have an extensive knowledge or understanding of the law so what does this mean in layman terms? Will we have to wait longer while this goes to court and not be able to marry in NC?

  2. “Intervenors” Tillis and Berger admit that they are ignorant of many facts in many paragraphs of the complaint (” . . . outside the scope of
    Intervenors’ knowledge”), but want to deem the complaints “DENIED.” How is this approach logical. And they also tell the Court that it has no jurisdiction to even hear this case. How arrogant and ignorant!

  3. That’s there big argument? That’s what they wanted 8 days to prepare for? That’s the best their expensive outside attorney could do? The Baker V Nelson argument was explicitly rejected by the court of appeals… they’re asking the district court to overrule the appeals court. How could anyone with a 4th grade education be seriously making this argument?

  4. You are by far the fastest (and best) communicator of this fast moving story. Thanks so much for your work!

    1. Don’t read anything into the “outside the scope . . . ” language, that is standard boilerplate. And challenging jurisdiction is also a common ploy. States do regulate marriage, however, all state regulations have to pass constitutional muster. For example, laws regarding age, mental status, and degree of relation by blood and marriage have all been litigated vigorously and passed muster. This law will fail on equal protection grounds in one state after another and SCOTUS declining to hear it meant, in essence, “no need to intervene, the states are doing it right, so there is no constitutional question.” Here’s to Monday. Kansas is trying a similar ploy and it will fail as well. #straightally Terri

  5. Imagine that….. Someone in the GOP wants “oral”……They’re grasping at straws… They’ll try anything at this point, but it isn’t going to work….

    1. Come on, can we please stop calling these Jackasses actual members of the GOP. As a proud republican, I fight for fewer government regulations…that includes not regulating who can get married. Tillis is a conservative christian, not an actual republican.

      1. On a side note, the conservative Christians have hijacked and ruined the republican party…much as christians ruin almost every party they go to.

      2. Kevin, QNotes will continue to call Tillis and Berger exactly what they are: Leaders of the GOP in North Carolina. Not only that, they were elected by Republicans and fellow GOP caucus members elected them leaders of their respective GOP-controlled chambers.

      3. Sorry, Kevin, but they are in fact Republicans–leaders in the party, in fact. The fact that you espouse views FORMERLY help by the GOP doesn’t change that, it just means the Party has moved in its direction and no longer actually stands for limited government. Tillis and Berger are very representative of Republicans in 2014.

      4. Kevin…. Unfortunately, they are what they are… YOU, however may not actually be a Republican as they’re defined these days… With the opinion you expressed, you’re certainly one I can agree with nonetheless. I invite you to take a good, hard look at the other side of the aisle… Study it diligently and consider stepping across. If you’re not open to that, I can certainly thank you for your perspective on this issue and hope we can agree on more in the future.

      5. Until you stand up and cleanse these people from your ranks, the GOP will be stained by the crap they throw. You can’t escape the spatter.

  6. Have you heard anything on the case in Asheville? Word on FB is that there’s been a ruling on the religious freedom case of the UCC being allowed to marry same sex couples.

  7. Baker v Nelson, old case that the court didn’t even hear. Once again they are going back four decades-close to half a century-to deny equal rights. The 1964 Civil Rights Act was only six or seven years old when Baker v Nelson was in the federal docket. Its over for them. Taking their last desperate gasps of fire and brimstone air. Maybe they can join Mike Huckabee on the way out…

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