ACLU To Challenge NC’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Same-sex marriage advocates in North Carolina say they will ask a federal judge to quickly strike down the state’s ban following the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to hear appeals of the issue.

American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina legal director Chris Brook said the group will file a request Monday seeking an immediate ruling from Chief U.S. District Judge William L. Osteen, Jr., in Greensboro overturning the state’s ban as unconstitutional.

The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday that it would not review rulings overturning marriage bans in five states, including Virginia.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond in July struck down Virginia’s ban. That court has jurisdiction over North Carolina and state Attorney General Roy Cooper has said the ruling is binding here.

ACLU To Challenge NC Gay Marriage Ban

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DURHAM – Six same-sex North Carolina couples are speaking out not only against the state’s ban on gay marriage, but also on the rights for their children.  According to a WRAL report, the American Civil Liberties Union says it will amend a federal law suit filed last year on behalf of those six couples where one partner wanted to adopt the other’s child.

The ACLU says it plans to launch a challenge to North Carolina’s ban on gay marriage, a ban solidified by an amendment to the state constitution that passed last year that prohibits the legal recognition of unions between same-sex couples.

The ACLU argues that marriage would provide same-sex couples a number of benefits for their children, including health insurance coverage if one parent lacks it, the permission of either parent to make medical decisions or to be by a child’s bedside if hospitalized, and the prevention from children being torn away from their home if something should happen to the biologically or legally recognized parent.

One of the couples in the 2012 lawsuit, Marcie and Chantelle Fisher-Borne, were legally married in Washington, D.C. in 2011 and currently live in Durham.  The couple has two children, a five-year-old girl and a one-year-old boy, each carried by one of the two women.  When their daughter was born, the couple met resistance from a hospital staff member who demanded their legal paperwork—the ACLU argues that encounters like this could be avoided if they were legally married in NC.

WCHL spoke with Chantelle to hear about how NC’s ban affects her family as well as other North Carolina families.

“Having marriage rights for same-sex couples is the best way to provide the safety net for our families, those of us who have kids,” she says.

Chantelle says having the original adoption rights case expand to include the ban on same-sex marriage is an important step, especially given the recent decision of the Supreme Court to declare DOMA unconstitutional.

“(With) lots of changes happening around the conversation of marriage rights, it was the perfect opportunity considering the changes in the laws,” Chantelle says.

And ultimately, Chantelle says she wants the same rights as any other parent who gave birth and raised a child.

“It directly affects any same-sex couple in North Carolina and many states across the US.  Being a legal stranger to your kid who you’ve raised since they were born is disconcerting to say the least, and something we want to change,” says Chantelle.

The Luxury of Disagreement

I have written derisively of using town dollars to defend a hands-free cell phone ban (when the town was even on notice it wouldn’t hold up in court).  The notion that it can be handled by attorneys already paid by the town made no difference to me because their salaries are still town dollars (tax $ = my $) and I have to believe there are other important issues awaiting legal attention on my dime.  

Well, it seems we may just be approaching one of those.  And it’s just a small thing… I can’t remember what it’s called.  What a minute…. something free…. no… “Free something…….  I’ve got it:  Free Speech.  

It’s quite likely you’re reading this thinking that’s a great use of tax dollars:  defending free speech.  Well, you may be disappointed to find out Chapel Hill is on the receiving end of a reminder about First Amendment rights.  The reminder comes from the American Civil Liberties Union and is about some controversial bus advertisements.

The ads were about U.S. military aid to Israel. As a recovering journalist, I can tell you there are two topics in the U.S. that if you cover them in any way, every single person reading/listening/watching will assume you’re biased.  One of them is Israel.*  And that assumption of bias occurs when you’ve tried to be as absolutely evenhanded as possible.  In the case of the bus ads, there is a definite point of view.  The sponsoring church wants to end U.S. military aid to Israel.  So, a lightning rod subject with a definite point of view on the far end of one of the many spectrums in this multi-layered debate.  No question, these ads were going to stir up a reaction.

The ads came down due to a technicality in the small print.  If that sounds redundant, this is one of the few times I’ll defend my writing:  It was a technical requirement that certain information be printed on the ad (all ads) that wasn’t included on these.  

Despite the respite for the town in having a real reason to duck the controversy, it rages on.  

While passionate people are debating the importance of Israel and the U.S. role in the region, I feel I’m watching a magician impeccably trained in the art of misdirection. There is plenty to debate about all aspects of the U.S. and every corner of the Middle East but it is our right to do so that is really in question here.  

The right to express an opinion is why we’re all (I hope) voting in a few weeks and savoring the ability to do so.  The right to disagree with an ad on a bus?  That’s an absolute luxury folks, and one we should be embracing, not curtailing. 

Disagree with me?  Celebrate your right to do so by leaving a comment below, and remember, courtesy and civility are adequate vehicles for all opinions- even very strong ones!  Prefer to address me directly?  Write to me at

*The other, I’m sure you’ve guessed, is abortion.