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CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE: Updates, resources, and context

North Carolina advocate praises federal same-sex marriage protections: 'An important step forward'

Headshot of Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara
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Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara

North Carolina's U.S. Senators Tom Tillis and Richard Burr were among the 11 Republicans who joined Democrats in approving a bill this week that codifies same-sex and interracial marriage protections.

The Respect for Marriage Act passed the Senate after advocates raised concerns about whether same-sex marriage protections will be back up for debate in the Supreme Court following the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara of Asheville spoke with WUNC's Will Michaels about the subject. She was the Democratic nominee in North Carolina's 11th District U.S. House this year.

This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

On the bill's passage in the Senate:

"What this does is create essentially a safety net so that LGBTQ couples, no matter what state they live in, will have access to the 1,200-plus rights and protections that come under federal law through marriage.

"It does not address what we are all very clear sighted about... after the Dobbs ruling this past summer [that reversed Roe v. Wade], I think there was a widespread understanding that we have to do everything we can to continue to protect and shore up those rights that we have won at the federal level.

"So, in North Carolina, we have to be very clear sighted about a scenario where if we did see [the Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage] overturned, and this issue move back to the states, we still have [a Constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage] on the books here.

"We would like to see [it] repealed and put away to the dustbin of history. We would like to see a state law ensuring the protection of marriage equality. Those are things we will keep fighting for."

On whether a federal non-discrimination law that protects LGBTQ people can pass:

"That's the work ahead of us. That's a good measure of the work we have to do in the political sphere. We have to elect representatives at both the Congressional level and the Senate level who are ready to take steps to provide these protections and that are keeping up with what a majority of Americans support.

"Here in North Carolina, we don't have to wonder about what it means to be on the receiving end of political attacks. The LGBTQ community here in North Carolina has systematically been targeted and scapegoated for decades within our state. And yet, I feel ever hopeful and even more hopeful after having run for Congress this past year, about what's possible as we move forward and what it means to translate people's actual perspectives and experiences in their hometowns and their families and their lives into the political will to make sure that these protections exist in our laws."

Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.