ACLU hopes to overturn same-sex marriage ban in NC

by: Tina Terry Updated:


GREENSBORO, N.C. - North Carolina's American Civil Liberties Union filed another lawsuit Wednesday challenging North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage.  

One million three hundred thousand voters passed the controversial marriage amendment in 2012.  It defines marriage as between one man and one woman.  Federal courts have struck down similar bans in several states.

The ACLU held a press conference in Greensboro Wednesday to talk about the new lawsuit.  The group invited Esmeralda Mejia from Hickory.  She and her partner were married in Maryland in 2013, but because their marriage isn't recognized in North Carolina, she says her partner's 7-year-old son can't receive her military benefits.

"All I'm asking is that the state of North Carolina recognizes my benefits," she said before an audience Wednesday.

She's one of six people named in the new lawsuit filed by the ACLU.  It pushes a judge to overturn amendment one so that the plaintiffs' marriages will be recognized in North Carolina. They are asking a judge to move swiftly.

"They're families that are facing urgent medical needs and the lack of marital recognition impacts their abilities to aid spouses aid their children."

Attorneys are also seeking injunctive relief in a lawsuit it filed in 2012.  That lawsuit challenges a law that prohibits same sex couples from adopting and it also challenges Amendement One.

Supporters of the amendment said this new lawsuit was an attempt by the ACLU to force the issue through the courts.  They're doubtful today's lawsuit will be successful.

"They've already got an existing lawsuit challenging the marriage amendment and this is their method of trying to speed up the process in the courts," said Tami Fitzgerald, executive director for the North Carolina Values Coalition.  

The ACLU's first lawsuit challenging the amendment was filed in 2012, but so far a judge hasn't moved on it.  North Carolina's attorney general will be responsible for representing the state in the lawsuit.  He said he was still reviewing the filings Wednesday.

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