North Carolina

North Carolina

General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Cooper

The Path to Victory:

On October 10, 2014 a federal judge ruled that North Carolina's Amendment 1, which bans same-sex couples from marrying, is unconstitutional, clearing the way for marriage in the state. Same-sex couples began marrying that afternoon in some counties, and the ruling took effect state-wide on October 13. The ruling referenced that the decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in a related Virginia case required North Carolina to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In June 2014, defendants in this federal lawsuit seeking the freedom to marry for same-sex couples submitted their reply brief. This lawsuit argues that Amendment 1, which prohibits same-sex couples from marrying, violates the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples in NC while denying clergy members the religious freedom to perform these marriages.

Case Background:

On April 28, 2014, a group of clergy members, people of faith, and same-sex couples filed a new federal lawsuit in North Carolina seeking the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. 

A public education campaign surrounding the lawsuit is being coordinated by the Campaign for Southern Equality.

The lead plaintiff in the case is General Synod of United Church of Christ, a mainline Protestant denomination with nearly 1 million members and more than 5,100 congregations nationwide. Eleven other people of faith and clergy members have joined the suit, arguing that they want to be able to legally perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples, and six same-sex couples, many who have been together for more than 25 years, are also plaintiffs.

Fisher-Borne v. Smith

The Path to Victory:

On October 13, U.S. District Court Judge Osteen ruled in this federal legal challenge to Amendment One that denying the freedom to marry to same-sex couples is unconstitutional. The ruling referenced that the decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in a related Virginia case required North Carolina to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and came several days after a similar ruling in the UCC case (see above). Same-sex couples were free to marry statewide that day. 

Case Background:

On June 13, 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation filed a federal lawsuit in the 4th Circuit on behalf of six same-sex couples seeking the right to obtain second parent adoptions. On July 9, 2013, just two weeks after the Supreme Court ruling striking down the central part of DOMA, the plaintiffs - some of whom are married and seeking respect in NC and some of whom are unmarried and seeking the freedom to marry in NC - submitted a request asking NC Attorney General Roy Cooper to agree to allow an additional challenge to the state's restriction of marriage to different-sex couples, and on July 22, the motion was approved.

On April 9, 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation filed a request for preliminary injunction seeking immediate relief for one of the couples, Shana Carnigan and Megan Parker, in this federal lawsuit seeking the freedom to marry and respect for the marriages of same-sex couples legally performed in other states. The ACLU argues that since the state does not respect their marriage, they are unable to be respected as a family and their son Jax, who faces serious developmental delays due to cerebral palsy, cannot access his mother's health insurance.

Gerber and Berlin v. Cooper

What's Happening:

On October 13, U.S. District Court Judge Osteen ruled in this federal legal challenge to Amendment One that denying the freedom to marry to same-sex couples is unconstitutional. The ruling referenced that the decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in a related Virginia case required North Carolina to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and came several days after a similar ruling in the UCC case (see above). Same-sex couples were free to marry statewide that day.

Case Background:

The couples include Ellen “Lennie” Gerber and Pearl Berlin of High Point, who have been together for 47 years, Lyn McCoy and Jane Blackburn of Greensboro, together for 22 years, and Esmeralda Mejia and Christina Ginter-Mejia of Hickory, who share 19 years of commitment.

Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina, explained, "Nothing should delay loving and committed couples from having the security and recognition that comes with marriage. 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."

On April 9, 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, and private lawyers filed a federal lawsuit seeking immediate respect for the marriages of three same-sex couples with life-threatening medical conditions. Because these couples' marriages are not respected in North Carolina, they are unable to access many protections and responsibilities provided by marriage.

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