Piedmont residents looking at Supreme Court taking on same-sex marriage

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Judy Willard, left, and Teena Wall (Handout photo/The Winston-Salem Journal)

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FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — Nearly a year after voters in North Carolina passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the issue Tuesday and Wednesday in two different cases that could have national implications.

Winston-Salem residents on both sides of the issue will be watching closely.

At 7 p.m. Monday, about 300 people will gather for the Light The Way To Justice vigil in front of U.S. District Court, at 251 North Main St., in support of equal rights for same-sex couples.

And on Tuesday, opponents of same-sex marriage, including some from Winston-Salem, will board eight buses to travel from Raleigh to Washington, D.C., for a March for Marriage rally.

Legal experts say that the Supreme Court could decide any number of ways on the two cases.

The cases involve California’s Proposition 8 that banned same-sex marriage in that state and the Defense of Marriage Act that bans same-sex marriage under federal law. The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling in late June.

The court could rule narrowly or issue a sweeping decision that would eventually affect North Carolina.

For Judy Willard and Teena Wall, a same-sex couple living in Kernersville, the issue hits home on a number of levels.

They have been together for 25 years. They were married April 6, 2012, in Washington, D.C., and have raised three adult children. Willard and Wall are now raising Wall’s 13-year-old granddaughter.

Willard said she quit her job and decided to stay at home to help raise Summer, but when she goes to pay her federal taxes, she is considered a single woman. That’s because the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage. And under state law, Willard cannot legally adopt Summer.

That causes the couple to worry that their family might fall apart if Wall passed away.

“If I die, what would happen to Summer?” Wall said.

Read full story: The Winston-Salem Journal.

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