Local

‘It scared me immediately’: Same-sex couples fear what could come after Supreme Court opinion

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — Same-sex couples across the Carolinas are bracing for what could happen if their marriage rights are taken away.

The fears come after Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a concurring opinion in Friday’s historic abortion case. In his opinion, he wrote, “For that reason, in future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.”

The latter case is the one that resulted in a landmark decision in which the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015.

Legal scholars believe Justice Thomas sent a signal to states to challenge same-sex marriage, again.

“It’s been like a whirlwind of emotions,” said Scott Coronet.

He and his husband, Ken, live in Huntersville with their daughter, 6, Quinn.

The family of three, along with a dog and a cat, is just like any family. You can hear the laughter of a little girl at lunch time, joking with her dads about how to cut strawberries. Minutes later, you can feel the bond of a family playing with their dog, Sam, in the front yard.

“It’s been great until last week’s ruling,” said Scott.

Since the concurring opinion made headlines, the Coronets have been anxious.

“The second I saw it -- I knew right away, this is going to impact our family really hard and really fast,” said Scott, trying his best to hold back tears.

“Our rights as a couple, as a family, have the opportunity to not be secure anymore,” added Ken.

Their minds have been racing, wondering what would happen to their marriage and their family if their rights were overturned in the future.

“We went down the rabbit hole, just mentally,” Ken said. “It’s everything from medical, school, you name it -- anything for our child or us as a couple.”

Those are the thoughts many same-sex couples have, according to Connie Vetter, a LGBTQ+ attorney at law in Plaza Midwood.

“This is whole new ground,” she said. “I believe it’s going to be legal chaos.”

Since the decision and concurring opinion, her law office has received numerous calls from concerned citizens.

“It’s been a hard few days,” she said.

Vetter and her legal colleagues are trying to sort everything out with numerous hypotheticals and scenarios if marriage equality was overturned.

“I believe that marriages that have already occurred,” she said. “Those marriages should be fine.”

However, if same-sex marriage was overturned on the national level, future same-sex marriages should still be legal but could be challenged.

“Our series of cases (in North Carolina) did come from federal cases,” Vetter explained, “We got marriage equality prior to Obergefell, but built on that same due process and equal protection of the 14th Amendment. So, the underpinnings -- I think that they are at risk for future.”

If same-sex marriage was overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States, same-sex marriage would go back to being illegal in South Carolina, according to state law in the Palmetto State.

Vetter said things would go back to the ways they were before 2015.

“Just like before Obergefell, you’re driving across the country and, ‘I’m married, I’m not married, I’m married, I’m not married,’” she said as she gestured her hands as if she was traveling across state lines. “It’s chaos.”

In the meantime, Vetter is telling same-sex couples to be prepared. She said people should have their wills updated, their adoption done and medical dictations finished, along with other important paperwork.

Those are the types of things the Coronets are looking into as they call for others to call for action.

“We just can’t sit around and let this stuff just happen to you,” Scott said.

(WATCH BELOW: What overturning Roe v. Wade means for South Carolinians)

Latest Trending