Roy Cooper speaks at event supporting same-sex marriage

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper's keynote address at a fundraiser Saturday night in support of gay rights drew questions from some social conservatives about how well he would defend the state's ban on same sex marriages that's currently being challenged in court.

Voter's approved Amendment 1 back in 2012, which declared it unconstitutional for North Carolina to recognize or perform same-sex marriages or civil unions.

A lawsuit was subsequently filed by same-sex couples challenging the law's constitutionality.

Cooper, who recently declared his public support for marriage equality, must defend North Carolina's Amendment 1 as Attorney General. He's listed as a defendant on the lawsuit.

"I think that the Attorney General is perfectly within his rights to explain that his personal opinions are right. Same sex, loving couples should be able to enter together into a legal union," said Equality North Carolina Executive Director Chris Sgro, who welcomed Cooper to the organization's Gala Saturday night in Greensboro. "He can effectively do his job, which is to defend the current laws of the state of North Carolina."

But, not everyone feels the same.

Some social conservatives feel that Cooper's public support of marriage equality, and appearance Saturday at the 2013 Equality North Carolina Foundation Gala in Greensboro, are a conflict of interest between his views and the interests of defending the state.

"I hope he gives everything he has for his job," said Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Greg Brannon, who is running for Senator Kay Hagan's seat in 2014. "But, my concern was, exactly like our state legislator's concern was; will he do it with all the vigor he has?"

That's what Brannon says this all boils down to; how well will Attorney General Roy Cooper defend the state's voter approved ban on same sex marriages when he's made it clear that he supports marriage equality?

"I voted for Amendment 1, supported it," said Brannon. "Marriage is a God given institution, between one man and one woman."

Although Cooper opposed Amendment 1, he's been adamant that his personal views will not stop him from giving his all in defending the state's law against same-sex marriages in the court.

"Let's watch him do the case," Brannon said. "Let's watch the defense. But, in case, we have another option."

The year, the General Assembly passed a law granting itself the power to defend itself in court with its own lawyers, instead of solely relying on the Attorney General's office.

Still, Cooper says this is not the first time his office has defended state laws that he didn't necessarily agree with.

Equality North Carolina, the organization that put on Saturday's gala, is not listed as a plaintiff in the lawsuit against Amendment 1.

The event was closed to the media.


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