UNC Fraud Report Released

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.

http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/aclu-to-challenge-nc-gay-marriage-ban/

UNC LGBTQ Director “Ecstatic” About SCOTUS Ruling

Terri Phoenix (Courtesy of UNC)

CHAPEL HILL – UNC’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer (LGBTQ) director, Terri Phoenix, joined Ron Stutts on the WCHL Thursday Morning News to express her reaction to  the Supreme Court’s 5-4 votes Wednesday.

***Listen to the Interview***

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled a provision in the Defense of Marriage Act, which recognized marriage at the federal level as only between a man and a woman, as unconstitutional. It also denied ruling on Proposition 8 in California.

“I’m ecstatic,” Phoenix says. “It was a decision that we really hoped would come through.  It does not address whether or the not the current state ban is unconstitutional, but it does say that federal recognition of marriage is something that all citizens should have access to.”

Phoenix says she looks forward to making more progress in North Carolina. The Supreme Court ruling on DOMA seeded the right of the state to define lawful marriage. Terri Phoenix expresses some concerns about what this has on people who have recognized marriages in other states.

“The question is what’s going to happen for people who have a marriage license from a state that recognizes marriage in terms of federal benefits if you live in North Carolina?” asks Phoenix.

Phoenix legally married her partner in Massachusetts, giving her concern about receiving federal benefits while residing in North Carolina. The Supreme Court ruling does not address how states that do not recognize same-sex marriage should handle same-sex couples like Phoenix.

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc-lgbtq-director-ecstatic-about-scotus-ruling/

Chapel Hill’s Mayor Weighs In On SCOTUS Rulings

CHAPEL HILL – The United States Supreme Court ruled that a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, which recognized marriage at the federal level as only between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional.

The court also decided not to take up California’s Proposition 8 ballot initiative, which banned gay marriage in the state after it was already legal. Its decision not to take up Prop 8 means that the previous ruling in the state, which ruled the initiative unconstitutional, is upheld.

As the decisions were read to the public, speculation began about how the ruling would affect gay and lesbian individuals in North Carolina, including many prominent local figures.

WCHL’s Afternoon and Evening Host, Aaron Keck, spoke with Chapel Hill’s Mayor, Mark Kleinschmidt Wednesday about the SCOTUS’ historic rulings.

***Listen to the Interview***

http://chapelboro.com/news/national/chapel-hills-mayor-weighs-in-on-scotus-rulings/

Prominent Local Residents React To DOMA, Prop 8 Rulings

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Supreme Court ruled that a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, which recognized marriage at the federal level as only between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional.

The court also decided not to take up California’s Proposition 8 ballot initiative, which banned gay marriage in the state after it was already legal. Its decision not to take up Prop 8 means that the previous ruling in the state, which ruled the initiative unconstitutional, is upheld.

As the decisions were read to the public, speculation began about how the ruling would affect gay and lesbian individuals in North Carolina, including many prominent local figures.

Lydia Lavelle, Carrboro Board of Aldermen member and assistant professor at North Carolina Central University’s School of Law, as well as the first out lesbian to run for Mayor of Carrboro, says that while DOMA is no longer in effect and previous California court rulings that overturned Prop 8 are now overturned, this decision does not immediately affect North Carolinians.

***Listen to the Full Interview***

“Nothing is different in any state where there was not already same-sex marriage,” Lavelle says. “What this is is a victory for those who live in the now-13 states and the District of Columbia where same-sex marriage is allowed.”

Tom Jensen, who has spoken with WCHL numerous times as director of Public Policy Polling, says that, as a gay man, he is happy about the rulings and their impact on the LGBTQ community but is still disappointed that the rulings will not make same-sex marriage legal across the country.

***Listen to the Interview***

“It’s still going to be a while before states like North Carolina get in line, especially when you look at passing Amendment One by a 22-point margin just last year,” Jensen says.

However, Jensen compares recent PPP polls that showed opposition to same-sex marriage leading by 16 points as a sign that North Carolina is gradually getting closer to overturning the marriage ban.

“You also have to have a legislature willing to put Amendment One repeal on the ballot,” Jensen says. “Obviously, this current, very Republican legislature that was responsible for Amendment One in the first place; I’m not sure if they’re going to do that.”

While DOMA, the federal law barring same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits related to marital status, was overturned, same-sex married couples living in states without recognition of their marriage, like North Carolina, would not receive benefits.

Lavelle says that, since marriage had typically been a state issue and the federal government intervened with DOMA, the legal outcome of the court’s ruling will be complicated.

“They intruded a little bit into what was previously states’ rights territory,” Lavelle says. “Now, by pulling that away, but yet it being tied to the way the state defines marriage, it’s going to get a little murkier before it gets clean.”

North Carolina amended the state’s constitution to say that “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized” on May 8, 2012 with passing of Amendment One.

http://chapelboro.com/news/national/prominent-local-residents-react-to-doma-prop-8-rulings/

UNC Law Professor Says SCOTUS Ruling Doesn’t Affect Amendment One

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the constitutionality of California’s same-sex marriage ban, Proposition 8, has no standing in court. The court also struck down a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that denies federal benefits to same-sex married couples.

UNC School of Law professor Gene Nichol spoke to WCHL about what exactly the Supreme Court’s rulings on Prop 8 and DOMA mean, and how they could potentially give the opportunity to affect Amendment One in North Carolina.

***Listen to the Full Interview*** 

“Proposition 8 by the trial court had been enjoined as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. That had been appealed to the Ninth Circuit and then to the United States Supreme Court, and in effect the Supreme Court ruled today that there was no jurisdiction to hear the appeal,” Nichol explains.

While California will likely begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the Supreme Court’s decision will not directly impact same-sex marriage bans in other states, like North Carolina.

“It doesn’t overturn Amendment One; it doesn’t declare it invalid. In fact, in refusing to reach the California case, it says on the one hand that we’re not going to address that issue in a direct manner,” Nichol says of the decision.

http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/unc-law-professor-says-scotus-ruling-doesnt-affect-amendment-one/

SCOTUS Overturns DOMA, Sends Prop 8 Back To CA

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Supreme Court of the United States ended its 2012-2013 session with rulings that the Defense of Marriage Act  is unconstitutional and sent California’s Proposition 8 back to the state courts. It ruled that the defendants in the Prop 8 case did not have proper standing, and thus the issue is sent back to the California courts.

DOMA was a 1996 law barring couples in same-sex marriages from the 1,138 benefits related to marital status, such as federal work benefits, tax deductions and pension benefits.

Speaking for the 5-4 majority, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said that creating different rights for different married couples was a violation the Fifth Amendment’s equal liberty.

However, benefits would only be available to same-sex couples living in states where same-sex marriage is recognized. For example, a couple married in Massachusetts could not collect federal marriage benefits in North Carolina.

In the Prop 8 case, the ballot measure was defended by ProtectMarriage.com and not the state of California itself.

Speaking for the 5-4 majority, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said that the private organization lacked standing and therefore the court could not rule on the case.

Now Prop 8 goes back to the last ruling in California to have the proper parties representing both sides. In that case, federal judge Vaughn Walker struck down Prop 8 as unconstitutional.

There are differing conclusions in California as to whether same-sex marriage is legal in the state again, but the city attorney of San Francisco has already said that he is planning to enforce same-sex marriages throughout the state if any county office tries to block it.

Congressman David Price on SCOTUS Rulings

“Today’s historic Supreme Court rulings affirms that we have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, from extending liberty and equality to all our citizens. The so-called Defense of Marriage Act denied millions of Americans equality under the law and access to federal benefits. I continue to believe that no one should be denied a chance at the happiness—or the rights and responsibilities—that marriage brings. Although many states continue to treat same-sex couples as second class citizens, it is clear that equal protection under the law for all Americans is only a matter of time and that history will judge these efforts at discrimination harshly. Today’s rulings are a victory for all who believe in an America that does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, age religion or sexual orientation.”

http://chapelboro.com/news/national/supreme-court-overturns-doma-spends-prop-8-back-to-california-courts/