Local advocates watch Supreme Court on gay marriage

March 26, 2013 3:04:09 PM PDT
As the gay marriage debate is at center stage in the U.S. Supreme Court, local advocates are closely watching the events unfold and looking for any impact here.

For people in the Triangle on either side of the gay marriage fight, the high court's decision could be game changing or not change anything at all.

As the passionate protests played out at the Supreme Court, Brett Webb-Mitchell is home in Durham wishing he could have made it to Washington to make his own plea.

"We know that in the long and the short term, hate will not win," said Webb-Mitchell.  "This is really about a case of love."

Webb-Mitchell is a professor at N.C. Central University, a former Presbyterian pastor, and he's gay. He and his partner, Dean, have been together almost 20 years.

He's hoping the high court doesn't just strike down California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage. He's hoping they rule all couples, gay or straight, have a fundamental right to marry.

An end to Prop 8 could also mean the demise of North Carolina's almost identical Amendment One.

"This is a civil rights issue," said Webb-Mitchell. "It should not have been put up for public votes."

It's hard to read the tea leaves from oral arguments, but neither side of the gay marriage debate seemed to win over a majority of the high court.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wondered aloud if the court should even be considering the case.

This is about protecting the institution of marriage," said Jere Royall, of North Carolina Family Policy Council.

Royall argues marriage has one definition. He's hoping the justices leave it a state issue.

"Hopefully what the court is going to look at is the fact that there are currently 41 states that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman," said Royall.

Many Supreme Court analysts are predicting that the justices will dismiss the Prop 8 case, which would allow gay marriages to resume in California, but nowhere else.

Wednesday, the court hears arguments on the Defense of Marriage Act. Gay couples are fighting for the same access to federal benefits as married couples.

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