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North Carolina

ACLU says it will challenge N.C. ban on same-sex marriage

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Updated, 9:00 p.m. EDT

RALEIGH, N.C. — The American Civil Liberties Union said Tuesday it was gearing up to attack North Carolina’s year-old constitutional prohibition against same-sex marriage.

The ACLU said its effort to challenge the North Carolina marriage ban adopted by voters in May 2012 starts by seeking to expand an existing federal lawsuit against a state law that same-sex couples cannot be recognized as equal parents of children. That lawsuit was filed in federal court in Greensboro on behalf of six North Carolina same-sex couples who support so-called second parent adoptions.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper is defending the state adoption law. The ACLU said it is asking the Democrat to agree to allow the civil-rights group to tack on a new claim challenging the state’s same-sex marriage ban. A Cooper spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

If Cooper declines, state ACLU legal director Christopher Brook said, the group will ask the court to expand its lawsuit.

In May 2012, six in 10 North Carolina voters backed amending the state constitution to make it much harder to reverse an already-existing state ban of gay marriages. President Barack Obama said in an interview the following day that his view of gay marriage had evolved and he now supports it.

NC Values Coalition executive director Tami Fitzgerald, who helped lead a coalition of Christian and conservative groups that led to North Carolina becoming the 30th state to adopt such a constitutional ban, said the ACLU effort was trying to circumvent voters.

“The attorney general should not agree to the ACLU’s request and neither should the judge. The attorney general took an oath to defend the laws of the state and that includes the marriage amendment,” Fitzgerald said in an emailed statement.

The ACLU’s move comes less than two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the federal law blocking married same-sex cou ples from receiving the same benefits as heterosexual spouses. Same-sex marriage is legal, or soon will be, in 13 states and the District of Columbia.

The ACLU on Tuesday also filed a federal lawsuit in Pennsylvania challenging that state’s same-sex marriage ban, and said it will do the same in Virginia. Same-sex couples in New Mexico and Arkansas filed similar legal challenges to state laws last week.

“I think it was only a matter of time” before North Carolina’s marriage ban was challenged, said Shana Carignan of Greensboro, who is half of one of the couples suing the state over its adoption law. “We’re fighting for family rights, and it’s hard to consider us a family if you don’t consider us a legal entity.”

Carignan’s partner, Megan Parker, adopted a boy in 2010 who has cerebral palsy, is unable to talk and had been living in a foster home. State law does not recognize Carignan as a co-parent to Jax, the fact being challenged by the ACLU’s existing laws uit.

When Jax had to have surgery three years ago, the hospital didn’t allow Carignan to stay past visiting hours without Parker also being there, Carignan said. That meant they couldn’t take turns spending the night at the hospital with the boy, who is now 5 and headed into kindergarten.

Carignan, 30, said she and Parker, 34, were legally married in Massachusetts last year, but their bond is not recognized in North Carolina.

“I just think it’s very important that people be able to have that validation – that we are married and that we are a family unit because of it,” Carignan said.

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32 more reader comments:

  1. If NC allowed gay marriage I might would consider moving back to my home town of Wilmington, NC…

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 10:06am
  2. I refused to let the bigots run me out of my home state

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 10:13am
  3. Good !!! . . . What about VA and LA ???

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 10:16am
  4. Again what about Florida ?

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 10:21am
  5. why not use the same argument that cali did.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 10:24am
  6. HOW ABOUT FLORIDA

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 10:43am
  7. I live in Elkin with my fiancé and 7 year old son. I can’t wait till NC allows marriage. One day soon…. :)

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 11:06am
  8. Come to Tennessee, come to Tennessee, come to Tennessee…

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 11:11am
  9. grate for NC, but you know in Indiana a same sex couple could be charged with fraud for trying to get a marriage lisence, where the hell are they to help us?

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 11:13am
  10. I can’t even say how happy this makes me. I hope they succeed. I love my home state but the bigots need to be turned on their asses.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 11:27am
  11. Thank you ACLU keep up the fight against these bigoted idiots.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 11:44am
  12. How about they come down South to S.C. when they’re done with N.C.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 11:50am
  13. Same here. Hello from Indiana! ^-^

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 12:16pm
  14. YES!

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 12:34pm
  15. it is because the people that run that state are close minded idiots

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 1:19pm
  16. So would I, hello in New Orleans…

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 2:58pm
  17. Ha, same here from a Texan living in Indiana!

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 3:36pm
  18. Of course you are idiots

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 5:31pm
  19. And so it begins….

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 8:49pm
  20. Do it!! <3

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 8:50pm
  21. Thank you ACLU, we need some help here in Indiana as well. The Governor wants a constitutional ammendment on the November 2014 ballot to make same sex marraige illegal here!

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 8:51pm
  22. Good luck, North Carolinians! You’re gonna need it because some of your state legislators are dumber than a bag o’ hammers.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 9:01pm
  23. florida too in brevard county alone the last census reported close to 250,000 lgbt in one county! we need representation and I will volunteer my partner and I for a any litmus test on the ability to challenge florida marriage law we need to get married as he is back out of remission and we need to consider our future! seriously we would love to take on the system he is a vet and we have been together 11 years

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 9:27pm
  24. Great! I think the ACLU will challenge it in other states as well.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 9:44pm
  25. yeah, not only that but it is Illegal for same sex couples to even fill out a marriage application, they could be jailed & fined…it’s Ridiculous !! INDIANA needs your help ACLU !!

    Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 11:27pm
  26. an excellent first step in ridding us of Ammendment One !!

    Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 5:14am
  27. Cool

    Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 6:19am
  28. Good luck with that. NC will be the last state in the Union to change. And it ain’t gonna happen without federal intervention.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 6:37am
  29. No dumb per session just stuck in ignorance and too closed minded to see anything they don’t already know. Change is a filthy word in this state.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 6:39am
  30. YAY !!! . . . . and Virginia !!!

    Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 6:49am
  31. Wouldn’t that be easier to do if we had national legislation that prevents discrimination of LGBT peoples? Just sayin.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 8:41am
  32. We’re definitely going to need it in this ass backwards state. >.>

    Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 10:18am