Raleigh, N.C. — Legislative leaders say they're not planning to intervene at this point in the court battle over North Carolina's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
A decision Monday by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Virginia's same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional, setting a precedent for federal challenges to North Carolina's very similar ban.
Attorney General Roy Cooper announced Monday afternoon he will cease defending the amendment in light of the court's ruling.
"It's time to stop making arguments we will lose and instead move forward, knowing that the ultimate resolution will likely come from the United States Supreme Court," Cooper said. "All federal courts have rejected these arguments each and every time, so it's time for the state of North Carolina to stop making them. There's really no argument left to be made."
Four challenges are underway in North Carolina. Three have been stayed pending higher court rulings.
At a press conference Tuesday on the budget, Berger reiterated his call for Cooper to change his mind.
"Sixty-plus percent of the people of the state wanted that provision put in our constitution," Berger said. "I think the Attorney General should defend the state constitution, and until the U.S. Supreme Court makes what could be argued as a final decision, I think we should continue to do that."
Last year, lawmakers approved a proposal giving Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis legal standing equal to that of the attorney general to defend the state's laws in court. However, Berger said no plans are in place to invoke that power.
"We don’t have any plans at this point to do anything," he said. "I don’t – I hope that’s not necessary. If it becomes necessary, we will consider it."