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Couple behind Alabama same-sex marriage challenge to refile adoption paperwork

Cari Searcy (left) with her spouse Kimberly McKean and son Khaya at their home in Mobile, Ala.
Cari Searcy (left) with her spose Kimberly McKean and son Khaya at their home in Mobile, Ala. Courtesy Cai Searcy (AP)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The couple whose lawsuit toppled Alabama’s gay marriage ban said they are grateful, overjoyed and still a little a bit in disbelief.

“We are still trying to take it all in. It’s overwhelming. We’re very grateful. Wow. It happened,” Kim McKeand said.

Cari Searcy and McKeand, along with their now 9-year-old son, filed a lawsuit this year challenging the ban that prevented Alabama from recognizing their California marriage and Searcy as a parent to their son that McKeand birthed.

“It was never about marriage equality for us. It started with me trying to gain parental rights to our son that we created,” Searcy said.

U.S. District Callie V.S. Granade on Friday ruled in the couple’s favor declaring both Alabama’s statutory and constitutional gay marriage bans to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The ruling was the latest in a string of wins in the South for advocates of gay marriage rights, but one that the couple’s friends doubted would happen in conservative Alabama.

“There were so many people who believed it couldn’t happen here,” Searcy said. They got the news Friday with a phone call.

“We three immediately started dancing and doing the happy dance and giggling and laughing and crying and we’ve been celebrating ever since,” McKeand said.

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Searcy, 39, and McKeand, 38 are both from Texas and met in college. Searcy, the owner of a video production company, and McKeand, a marketing manager, moved to Mobile 13 years ago.

“Everybody was like why Alabama? We found it, Mobile in particular, to be very inviting and just a great community and we loved it,” Searcy said.

McKeand in 2005 gave birth to a son who was conceived with the help of a sperm donor. The boy was born with a hole in his heart and needed surgery. Searcy said that her status as a non-parent became clear when a nurse said she needed proof of guardianship to show her procedures needed for the boy’s care.

“I was a total legal stranger,” Searcy said.

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