nc_protestDon’t let the name fool you — North Carolina is still the South.

And while it’s probably not the first state that comes to mind when you think “conservative stronghold,” North Carolina has had a recent run of legislation that reads more like Mississippi than Maine.

In a 2013 article titled “North Carolina Reverts To Red,” TIME Magazine notes:

“[North Carolina] lawmakers have blocked a Medicaid expansion under Obama’s Affordable Care Act, reduced access to federal unemployment benefits, cut the corporate tax rate, trimmed public-education funding, passed a bill that allows concealed weapons in bars and restaurants, tackled welfare reform, proposed a ban on Shari‘a, restricted access to abortion and enacted stricter voting laws.”

Which makes it all the more historic that the red state is poised to become the 20th in the union to allow same-sex marriage.

A federal appeals court ruled Monday that Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional, the latest in a string of similar court victories for marriage rights. North Carolina State Attorney General Roy Cooper issued the following statement in response to the Virginia ruling:

“All federal courts have rejected these arguments each and every time, so it’s time for the state of North Carolina to stop making them,” he said. “There’s really no argument left to be made.”

Of the 19 states that have legalized same sex marriage, there is a common thread: every single one swayed blue in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, a point driven home in a Washington Post piece from May of this year, “Legalizing same sex marriage is still a blue state thing.”

North Carolina broke its nearly three decade-long red streak when it barely went blue for Obama in 2008. In 2012 it reverted back to a comfortable red margin.

As a tide of legal victory continues its inevitable swell, it’s only a matter of time before marriage equality begins to seep into conservative states. At some point you have to stop betting on a losing horse. And North Carolina may very well be the first.

The first of many. To the state lawyers out there working up a sweat standing in the way of history — take note.

The issue is currently working its way up the courts in Utah, Arkansas and Oklahoma, and you can be sure it won’t stop there.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story state that Roy Cooper is an opponent of marriage equality. In fact, Cooper, a Democrat, recently came out in support of same-sex marriage.

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