Like many states in the US, the state of North Carolina has had something of a tumultuous history when it comes to LGBT law and policy. But, at the forefront of each fight for equal rights across the United States have been dedicated LGBT lawyers representing their client’s best interests. Today, though many legal battles have been won and many protections exist, LGBT persons in North Carolina still face legal challenges which non-LGBT persons in North Carolina do not experience. Below you will find just a few historical examples of the difference a reliable LGBT lawyer can make when fighting for your rights and interests in order to ensure you are treated fairly under the law.
LGBT Law in North Carolina: A History
For a long period of time, North Carolina was one of several other states in the nation which had a law actually criminalizing homosexual activity. This law was overturned in 2003 by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Lawrence v. Texas, which declared all laws criminalizing consensual homosexuality unconstitutional. There was a later attempt to remove the state’s “crime against nature statute,” N.C. G.S. § 14-177, in 2005, but this attempt, known as State v. Whiteley, failed because the statute refers to sexual contact with minors, non-consensual sexual contact, public sexual displays, and prostitution. Finally, the state does still have a sodomy law on the books, which is essentially unenforceable.
More recently, in 2016, North Carolina passed the controversial HB2 legislation, which prohibited local government from enacting policies which are contrary to state law regarding hiring decisions and public restroom use. In addition, the law required all people to use the public restroom corresponding to the gender marker on their birth certificate. The response to the law was vocal and nationwide, and on March 30, 2017, the portion of the law restricting bathroom use to birth gender was repealed by the state legislature. The repeal was signed into law that same day by Governor Roy Cooper.
North Carolina as a state does not allow discrimination based on religion, ethnicity, sex, handicap, or country of origin statewide. In public employment, discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and sexual orientation is also prohibited, though this prohibition is missing in private sector employment. North Carolina state law also prohibits local municipalities from passing measures prohibiting such discrimination in the private sector.
Same-Sex Marriage in North Carolina
North Carolina has, historically, denied same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court decision allowed it nationwide. This denial was stated outright by statute as early as 1996, but the history of same-sex marriage in North Carolina comes to the forefront legally in 2011, when the state General Assembly passed SB514, which amended the state constitution to ban any form of same-sex unions, including not only marriage but civil unions and all other forms of domestic unions. This amendment, approved in 2012, was struck down on October 14, 2014, as unconstitutional by a federal court decision, during a period when federal courts were responding to lawsuits regarding such constitutional amendments in several states.
In April of 2014, the case General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Cooper successfully argued that the state’s statute regarding solemnizing the marriage of a couple without a marriage license was unconstitutional on the grounds that it restricted religious freedom. Finally, on June 27, 2015, the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, making such unions fully legal in North Carolina. As a result, same-sex marriage is treated no differently, legally speaking, than any other marriage, and is subject to the same laws, including divorce law, alimony, estate planning, and laws regarding the adoption of children.
LGBT Adoption Rights in North Carolina
In the state of North Carolina, adoption of children by same-sex couples (as individuals, not as a union) has been allowed by some lower courts. However, in 2010, the case of Boseman v. Jarell determined that the state would not allow adoption of a child by a second unmarried person, regardless of that person’s sex. Since same-sex marriage was not allowed at this time, this essentially prohibited adoption of children by same-sex couples. This decision was overturned in 2013 when same-sex couples sued several local and state officials for second-parent adoption rights.
Today, since same-sex marriage is legal, it is treated the same as any other form of marriage, and this includes the ability to adopt children, either as a couple or as a step-parent adoption, with one spouse legally adopting the other spouse’s biological or adopted child.
North Carolina LGBT Attorneys Fighting for Your Rights and Interests
While there have been many legal battles won for the rights of North Carolina LGBT residents, with that comes many of the same legal issues that everyone faces when it comes to making major life changes within a family. In these times, you need an LGBT lawyer on your side to ensure your best interests are met and that your legal case is handled efficiently and professionally. Whether you are planning to adopt, considering a divorce, seeking child support from a former partner, or thinking of estate planning with an eye toward the future, an experienced and knowledgeable North Carolina LGBT lawyer can help ensure you are treated fairly under the law while increasing the chances of a successful outcome for your case. Take the first step toward resolving your legal issues by reaching out to an LGBT lawyer in North Carolina today to discuss your legal options.
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