Republican leaders in the North Carolina legislature have hired John Eastman, the chairman of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), to defend the state's ban on gay marriage.

North Carolina's ban remains in place but is threatened by the Supreme Court's decision not to hear appeals in five cases challenging bans in Utah, Virginia, Indiana, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. Virginia and North Carolina are under the jurisdiction of the same appellate court.

House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Phil Berger vowed to intervene in the case shortly after marriage equality advocates said they would ask a federal judge to lift the state's ban.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, announced in July he would no longer defend the ban, saying “there are really no arguments left to be made.”

Reached by the Charlotte Observer, Eastman refused to confirm or deny the news “until I speak to some folks about what's happening.”

A federal judge could issue a ruling at any time.