Cooper defends gay marriage stance following opinions in VA, KY - WNCN: News, Weather

Cooper defends gay marriage stance following opinions in VA, KY

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N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper has publicly criticized the state's gay marriage ban, while promising to defend it in court. N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper has publicly criticized the state's gay marriage ban, while promising to defend it in court.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper says he still intends to stand up in favor of the state's same-sex marriage ban in federal court, even though he personally disagrees with it.

The comments come after two other Southern Democratic attorneys general called their state's bans unconstitutional and refused to defend the laws.

"I have a job, as Attorney General, and that job is to defend the state," Cooper told WNCN.

On Tuesday, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway teared up in front of reporters as he announced his decision not to appeal a federal judge's ruling that the state must allow same-sex couples to marry.  Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring took a similar stance last month when a judge struck down his state's ban.

Cooper, who plans to run for governor in 2016, says each state is different and he's trying to do what's best for North Carolina.

"I can do my job as Attorney General, but I can still express my views on public policy and I'll continue to do that," Cooper said.

But Cooper's stance, defending a law while publicly criticizing it, has won him few friends across the aisle.  In fact, Republicans even secured their own pro bono lawyer to defend the marriage ban.

"He [Cooper] can't speak for the state since his opinion now is exactly contrary to the constitution of the state of North Carolina," Wake County Representative Paul "Skip" Stam told WNCN in October.

But with polls also showing acceptance of gay marriage on the rise, one political observer says Cooper's stance could also be tough to swallow for Democratic primary voters.

"I think support for gay marriage is very popular among the Democratic base, which is what you need to win the primaries," N.C. State University political science professor Steven Greene said, "and if he is not seen as sufficiently supportive, that leaves an opening or space for a candidate on his left to come in and take the primary away potentially."

Both sides of the marriage lawsuit are still awaiting a Greensboro judge's ruling on whether that lawsuit can move forward.  The state has asked that it be thrown out.

Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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