Lest anyone believed that North Carolina’s fake “repeal” of the odious, transphobic HB2 signaled a turn toward tolerance inside the State Capitol in Raleigh, three Republican lawmakers intend to set the record straight (as it were). As local CBS affiliate WNCN reported Tuesday, three Republican men introduced a bill that aims to declare all same-sex marriages in the Tar Heel State null and void.
The one-page bill is patently unconstitutional, of course, and fundamentally misunderstands the role of the Supreme Court. It claims that the high court has no jurisdiction over how marriage is defined in individual states (it absolutely does), and, more incredibly, that the Supreme Court’s June 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges “exceeds the authority of the Court relative to the decree of Almighty God.” Then the bill quotes Genesis to argue that marriage equality “abrogates the clear meaning and understanding of marriage in all societies throughout prior history.”
— Lambda Legal (@LambdaLegal) April 11, 2017
The bill is unlikely to pass, and even if it did it would be vetoed by North Carolina’s Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, the state’s former attorney general who refused to defend HB2 in court. The “Uphold Historical Marriage Act” has been almost universally panned, with the Charlotte Observer rightly noting that the mere introduction of the bill has offered an easy opportunity for the nation to “once again” start “mocking North Carolina.” Even the Republican Speaker of the House, a key sponsor of HB2, said the new bill should be considered dead on arrival.
Considering that the bill recycles old (and legally defeated) “justifications” for opposing marriage equality, and that it aims to outright defy the Supreme Court (going so far as to declare Obergefell “null and void in the state of North Carolina”), observers are left wondering as to the true intent of filing this dead-in-the-water bill. At best, the bill is a cynical attempt to appeal to the (presumably) far-right base of the Republican representatives who filed it. At worst, it’s the clearest sign yet that North Carolina lawmakers never intended to allow LGBT people to “live and let live.”
And as long as the HB2 “repeal” known as HB142 is in force, localities are barred from enacting nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people—so even the progressive cities that want to uphold marriage equality (or equal access for trans folks, or employment protections) would be unable to do so. If North Carolina Republicans feel emboldened enough to challenge established Supreme Court precedent and the basic idea of legal jurisdiction, there’s clearly no limit to the “creative” ways those same lawmakers are willing to relegate LGBT residents to second-class status, regardless of the irreparable damage done to those citizens, the state’s economy, and its reputation.