Winston-Salem, North Carolina now recognizes the marriages of its gay and lesbian city employees for the purpose of benefits.

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, Carmen Caruth, the city's human resources director, sent a letter last month informing employees that Winston-Salem would recognize any valid out-of-state marriage license.

“This means that if you are currently married to someone of the same sex, and have a valid marriage license from any state or U.S. jurisdiction, you can enroll your same sex spouse and children in all city benefits ...” she said in the letter.

Caruth said the decision stemmed from the state's recent announcement that it would no longer defend in court its 2012 voter-approved constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples. North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced the about face soon after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Virginia's ban. North Carolina is also in the Fourth Circuit.

City Manager Lee Garrity said he does not know of any other North Carolina city recognizing such marriages, but added that “several cities were already extending domestic partnership benefits prior to this.”