|Judge William Osteen
Make no mistake: Amendment One, outlawing gay marriage in NC, is dead. Osteen is just finding his mallet and polishing it up before he drives that wooden stake through the heart of unequal treatment under the law.
How The Supremes Did So Much by Doing Nothing
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear appeals by anti-gay marriage proponents from a number of states in which other Federal judges had thrown out laws similar to North Carolina's. Those lower court rulings had been upheld in several courts of appeal, including in the Fourth Circuit, where Virginia's anti-gay marriage law was declared unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court's denial of review means that those Circuit Court rulings are the law of the land, at least in the states covered by those circuits. North Carolina is covered by the Fourth Circuit.
Judge Osteen was already hearing two cases in his courtroom brought against North Carolina's ban. He put those cases on hold, waiting for the Supreme Court to act. Yesterday, after The Supremes didn't act, he told both sides in the two cases before him that he believes he is now mandated to overturn NC's anti-gay law and he ordered litigants to give him in writing notice about any problems before he moves to "summary judgment" (notice the "without argument," because arguing is now over):
...this court orders that the parties file a status report, without argument, detailing the following matters: (1) whether the parties agree with this court’s suggestion as to the effect of [the Fourth Circuit decision] on this case as set out herein; (2) whether any discovery is required as to either of these cases prior to proceeding to summary judgment; (3) what issues remain for resolution by this court in each of these cases with respect to the challenged adoption laws; and (4) what the parties suggest in terms of additional briefing on any remaining issues.The Three Amigos Put Themselves Even Further on the Wrong Side of History
We expected Tami Fitzgerald, head of the NC Values Coalition and a big enemy of gay people, to go off like a well-coifed roman candle about what the Supreme Court ... didn't do. And she did.
Thom Tillis and Phil Berger, the chief architects of Amendment One who on other days cordially despise one another, were quick with a joint statement, recalling that May 2012 triumph when the state gave a big vote for Amendment One. Not much foam in this statement, really, but at least some standard political word salad free of nutrition:
The people of North Carolina have spoken, and while the Supreme Court has not issued a definitive ruling on the issue of traditional marriage, we are hopeful they will soon. Until then, we will vigorously defend the values of our state and the will of more than 60 percent of North Carolina voters who made it clear that marriage is between one man and one woman.
"Vigorously defend the values." By which they mean "vigorously defend the right of a prejudiced majority to impose unequal treatment under the law on a despised minority." Yeah, we got that!
McCrory (bless his heart!) was far less "vigorous" in his statement:
I disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision, which goes against the amendment that North Carolina voters overwhelmingly approved. We will continue to respect the legal process as it proceeds.
What? It's as though the governor is fading away before our very eyes, a mere mist of a hint of a human personality. It's good, we guess, that he has "respect" for processes over which he has never had any control.
Has State Representative Jonathan Jordan issued a statement on yesterday's developments?
Has Senator Dan Soucek? He was certainly the biggest champion for Amendment One in these precincts.
Someone will certainly want to let young voters know where Thom Tillis stands on the unconstitutional denial of equality to a segment of our citizenry, and where Jordan and Soucek stand too, if they want to make a big ole public show of beating a very dead horse.