Cooper's same-sex marriage stance sets up battle with Republican - WFLA News Channel 8

Cooper's same-sex marriage stance sets up battle with Republicans

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Attorney General Roy Cooper's support for same-sex marriage could set the stage for some complicated legal maneuvering. Attorney General Roy Cooper's support for same-sex marriage could set the stage for some complicated legal maneuvering.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper's support for same-sex marriage could set the stage for some complicated legal maneuvering when a lawsuit over the state's 2012 constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage makes its way to federal court.

Over the weekend, Cooper, who has said he will seek the democratic nomination for governor in 2016, told the Associated Press "I support same-sex marriage." His political adversaries quickly pounced on that statement.

"The people of the state voted by a big majority to take the opposite position from his," President Pro Tempore Paul "Skip" Stam (R-Wake) said. "Now he thinks he can go before a federal judge and say, 'Judge, this law is fine. I'm against it. It makes no sense, it's crazy, but please uphold it.'

"That is damaging to his client, the people of the state of North Carolina."

Stam said he hopes the General Assembly will find someone else to defend the state in court.  Recently, the ACLU of North Carolina announced it was amending a previous lawsuit over gay couples' right to adopt children to also include a challenge to the marriage amendment.

"He can't speak for the state since his opinion now is exactly contrary to the Constitution of the state of North Carolina," Stam said.

If the General Assembly chooses to hire a private lawyer, it would be the same route they are currently taking in defending the state's controversial new voting laws. 

N.C. State University political scientist Steven Greene said Cooper should be expected to defend the law despite his public opposition to it.

"That is his job as Attorney General," Greene said. "I'm sure there are all sorts of policies that he's defending on a regular basis that he may not personally agree with."

That's a fact not lost on Raleigh same-sex couple Don Davis and Nick Poulson. They're happy Cooper has now come out for marriage equality, but they're also realistic about the pace of change in North Carolina.

"He's still going to have to do his job and defend the law," Davis said. "But we're very encouraged with the progress that's been made in this state."

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