RALEIGH — The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday launched a new legal assault on North Carolina's constitutional ban on recognizing same-sex marriage, urging a federal judge to quickly negate it to help children and gay couples suffering from urgent health problems.
The civil rights group said it was seeking to speed up a decision in lawsuit filed in 2012 by citing the urgent health needs of a child who suffers from cerebral palsy who was adopted by one of the lesbian couples involved in the case. The ACLU also filed a new lawsuit on behalf of three other lesbian couples struggling with health conditions made more difficult because they lack legal recognition of their marriages performed in other states, said ACLU staff attorney Elizabeth Gill.
The ACLU and the same-sex couples they represent argue a judge should act quickly to suspend North Carolina's marriage ban because they are suffering immediate and irreparable harm.
"The plaintiffs that we're representing and talking about today really have urgent harms," Gill said.
Wednesday's action is patterned in part on an Ohio case that sought to force the state's recognition on death certificates of out-of-state gay marriages, Gill said. The judge ruled in December that Ohio should recognize gay spouses on death certificates. The same judge then said earlier this month he will rule that Ohio must recognize out-of-state gay marriages
Seventeen states allow gay marriage and federal judges have struck down bans in Michigan, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia.
NC Values Coalition executive director Tami Fitzgerald, who helped lead a coalition of Christian and conservative groups supporting the state's 2012 constitutional amendment, said the ACLU's moves attempt to void the will of voters who backed traditional marriage. Six in 10 voters backed changing North Carolina's constitution.
"While we sympathize with these individuals about their poor health, that is not a reason to re-define marriage," Fitzgerald said in a statement.