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ACLU moves to challenge NC gay marriage ban

By Caitlin Owens
cowens@newsobserver.com

The American Civil Liberties Union announced today that it wants to challenge North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriages by asking the state Attorney General to allow the group to amend an existing case on second-parent adoptions.

The announcement came less than two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. North Carolina’s constitutional ban on gay marriage remains.

“All we’re asking is they consent to our amending the complaint,” said Chris Brook, legal director for the ACLU of North Carolina.

The existing case, filed against the state in federal court in Greensboro last year, involves six same-sex couples in North Carolina and challenges a state ban on second-parent adoptions. This kind of adoption occurs when one partner in an unmarried couple, gay or straight, adopts the other partner’s biological or adoptive child.

Brook said if Attorney General Roy Cooper agrees to the request, he would not be agreeing that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right; he would simply be allowing the group to make its case against the marriage ban in court.

Brook said the case has always been about protecting children and families.

“Marriage strengthens families,” he said. “It gives couples the tools and securities to build their lives together.”

The language of the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling helped link second-parent adoptions and same-sex marriages, he said, adding that marriage is important to children.

“The Supreme Court focused on the harm to families and to children that comes when marriages are not recognized by the government,” Brook said.

If the Attorney General denies the ACLU’s request, it will petition the federal court to add the claim.

Owens: 919-829-4567
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