RALEIGH, NC (AP) - A federal judge in North Carolina has struck down the state's gay marriage ban, opening the way for the first same-sex weddings in the state to begin immediately.
U.S. District Court Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr., in Asheville issued a ruling Friday shortly after 5 p.m. declaring the ban approved by state voters in 2012 unconstitutional.
Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger kept his Asheville office open late to begin issuing marriage licenses to waiting couples.
Cogburn's ruling follows Monday's announcement by the U.S. Supreme Court that it would not hear any appeal of a July ruling by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond striking down Virginia's ban. That court has jurisdiction over North Carolina.