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Virginia Case Could Impact Same-Sex Marriage Bans In NC, SC

Washington University School of Law

U.S. Appeals Court judges in Virginia Tuesday will hear arguments in a case that could decide the fate of same-sex marriage bans in the Carolinas.

A federal judge in Virginia overturned that state's ban on same-sex marriage in February. The case was appealed, and now it's one step below the U.S. Supreme Court.

UNC-Charlotte Political Science Professor John Szmer says just as the Supreme Court sets the precedent for the whole country, U.S. Appeals Courts set precedents for their regions.

"We're in the 4th Circuit, which is the Virginias, the Carolinas and Maryland," he said. "And so the decisions that are made by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals bind those five states."

If the appeals court upholds the earlier decision that overturned Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage, it'll most likely mean that similar bans in the Carolinas are also unconstitutional.

Szmer says after the appeals court hears arguments Tuesday, the judges will probably take a few months to reach their decision.