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Jul 9, 2013

Equality NC Responds to Amendment One Challenge

Raleigh, N.C. - Equality NC, North Carolina’s statewide Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) advocacy organization, today responded to the announcement that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF) plan to challenge North Carolina’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples by amending a federal lawsuit filed against the state last year on behalf of six same-sex couples and their children that challenges North Carolina’s ban on second parent adoptions. The announcement comes on the same day that the ACLU has filed a federal challenge to Pennsylvania’s marriage ban and the ACLU and Lambda Legal have announced a challenge to Virginia’s marriage ban.

"Nothing says 'we are family' like marriage, and the 2012 passage of North Carolina's constitutional marriage ban - Amendment One - devastated hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who were left without basic recognitions for their families and children," said Stuart Campbell, Executive Director of Equality NC. "Equality NC is proud to support the ACLU's efforts to overturn this discriminatory - and now unconstitutional - ban on the rights, responsibilities and protections of North Carolina's gay and lesbian families and join other states across the country that are fighting hard for the freedom to marry."

ACLU Media Contact: Mike Meno at 919-834-3466, 919-348-9623 or mmeno@acluofnc.org

From today's ACLU press release:

The ACLU is asking North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper to agree to allow an additional claim challenging the state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples to be added to Fisher-Borne v. Smith, a lawsuit filed last year in Greensboro in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina that challenges the state’s ban on second parent adoption, a process by which one partner in an unmarried gay or straight couple adopts the other partner’s biological or adoptive child. If the Attorney General’s office does not agree to the addition of the new claim, the ACLU will petition the court to allow the claim to be added.

Marriage would help same-sex couples protect their children by ensuring that all children in the family are covered if one partner lacks health insurance, that families will stay together and children will not be torn from the only home they’ve known if something should happen to the biological or legally recognized parent, and that either parent will be allowed to make medical decisions or be able to be by their child’s bedside if one of their children is hospitalized.

“The past year has witnessed a sea change in the quest to secure the freedom to marry for all committed couples across the nation and in North Carolina,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU-NCLF. “From President Obama and Senator Hagan’s endorsements to the recent landmark Supreme Court decision declaring the so-called Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, support for the freedom to marry has moved forward by leaps and bounds. Conversations are happening at dinner tables throughout our state with more and more North Carolinians agreeing that the rights and responsibilities that come with marriage should not be denied to loving and committed couples simply because they are gay or lesbian. Our announcement today is the next step in that conversation.”

The move to amend the North Carolina lawsuit comes less than two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in another ACLU case, United States v. Windsor, which found that the federal Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage as between one man and one woman was unconstitutional.

“Under DOMA, same-sex married couples have their lives burdened, by reason of government decree, in visible and public ways,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority in Windsor, adding that creating a “second-tier” status for same-sex couples “demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects … [a]nd it humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples. The law in questions makes it even more difficult for the children to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.”

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