Raleigh, N.C. — House Speaker Tim Moore said Wednesday that a bill filed Tuesday that would outlaw same-sex marriage in North Carolina and refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states was effectively dead.
According to House Bill 780, the state would declare that the federal government is not legally authorized to regulate marriage. Therefore, the state's 2012 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage would remain in effect.
The proposal presumes that the state could simply refuse to recognize the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. According to the bill, that ruling "exceeds the authority of the Court relative to the decree of Almighty God that 'a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh' (Genesis 2:24, ESV) and abrogates the clear meaning and understanding of marriage in all societies throughout prior history."
The bill's primary sponsor, Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, is a Christian minister. He refused to comment on the legislation he filed.
The bill's second sponsor, Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven, first denied that the bill would outlaw same-sex marriage in the state, then said that, since the constitutional amendment remains on the books despite the Supreme Court ruling, state lawmakers should "do something about it." He declined to say what action that should be, and he turned down an interview request, accusing reporters of misrepresenting his positions in earlier stories.
"There are strong constitutional concerns with this legislation given that the U.S. Supreme Court has firmly ruled on the issue," Moore said in a statement. "Therefore, House Bill 780 will be referred to the House Rules Committee and will not be heard."
The bill appears to follow the same logic as several other states' rights measures filed by Pittman and Speciale in sessions past, citing the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as the authority that gives the state the power to refuse to recognize or comply with federal laws or decisions state leaders deem excessive or unconstitutional.
Sarah Gillooly, policy director for the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, called the proposal a "half-baked legal theor[y]," noting same-sex marriage is "the law of the land in North Carolina and the entire nation."
"This bill is absurd, unconstitutional and further proof that some North Carolina legislators remain committed to discriminating against LGBT people and their families," Gillooly said in a statement. "North Carolina lawmakers cannot defy the U.S. Supreme Court based on their extreme personal views."