RICHMOND, Va. — A federal appeals court has rejected a challenge to a North Carolina law allowing magistrates to opt out of officiating same-sex “weddings” after agreeing with a lower court that the plaintiffs in the case lacked standing.
“The outcome here is in no way a comment on same-sex marriage as a matter of social policy. The case before us is far more technical, whether plaintiffs, simply by virtue of their status as state taxpayers, have alleged a personal, particularized injury for the purposes of standing,” Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, nominated to the bench by then-President Ronald Reagan, wrote on behalf of the three-judge panel.
He said that the complainants had proven no personal harm because they have either already “married” their partner or are about to do so without any claim of obstruction.
“Plaintiffs concede that the state has not impeded or restricted their opportunity to get married,” Wilkinson wrote. “One same-sex couple married in 2014, another same-sex couple is engaged to be married, and the last pair of plaintiffs, an interracial couple, married in 1976. … Because plaintiffs’ claim does not fall within the narrow exception to the general bar against taxpayer standing, their suit must be dismissed.”