North Carolina’s Marriage Ban Challenged in Federal Court

Thursday Apr 10, 2014
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Alexis Leonard, left, and Chelsea Beresford kiss before applying for a marriage license at the Buncombe County Register of Deeds office in Asheville, N.C., Oct. 15, 2013.
Alexis Leonard, left, and Chelsea Beresford kiss before applying for a marriage license at the Buncombe County Register of Deeds office in Asheville, N.C., Oct. 15, 2013.   (Source:Photo: Adam Jennings, AP)

RALEIGH, N.C. - The American Civil Liberties Union is launching a new legal assault on North Carolina’s constitutional ban on marriage for same-sex couples.

The group said Wednesday that it is urging a federal judge to quickly negate the state ban to help children as well as gay couples suffering from urgent health problems and struggling with insurance and other restrictions.

ACLU staff attorney Elizabeth Gill says the argument is similar to an Ohio case brought by a gay couple in which one man was terminally ill. A federal judge last year ordered Ohio to recognize out-of-state gay marriages on death certificates.

Federal judges have struck down bans in Michigan, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia.

According to the NC ACLU Press Release:

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation and the law firms of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and Ellis & Winters LLP filed a new case in federal court today on behalf of three married, same-sex couples seeking state recognition of their marriages. Because of the serious medical condition of one member of each couple, they are asking the court to take swift action.

The ACLU also sought immediate relief on behalf of one of the couples in the existing Fisher-Borne et al. v. Smith case who have a young child who is being denied critical medical care because North Carolina neither recognizes his mothers’ marriage nor allows both mothers to adopt their child and establish a legal relationship.

"Nothing should delay loving and committed couples from having the security and recognition that comes with marriage," said Jennifer Rudinger, Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. "For many couples - especially those who have children or one partner who is elderly or ill - the need for marriage recognition is an urgent, daily reality. Without the legal security that only marriage affords, these families are left vulnerable. If they could marry or have their marriages recognized in North Carolina, the law would protect their families in countless ways."

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