When it comes to North Carolina’s “Marriage Amendment” all eyes are on a Richmond, Virginia courtroom this week. The U-S Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is expected to rule any day on a case challenging Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. Because the Tarheel state is part of the same circuit, that ruling could impact the legality of Amendment One.
Attorney Chris Brook is with the ACLU of North Carolina, “It would not immediately invalidate Amendment One. I think that a favorable ruling out of the Fourth Circuit would make Amendment One legally indefensible.”
In North Carolina, the ACLU has filed two federal lawsuits challenging the state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples. The most recent, filed in April of this year, involves three married, same-sex couples seeking recognition of their marriage, in part because one member of each couple has a serious medical condition.
Lennie Gerber and her partner of 48 years are one of those couples. She says time is everything to them as Pearl faces failing health. “I’m fully aware of how we have had to fight for every step along the way of everybody’s civil rights. So, it’s just one more stone that has to be turned, and I have every confidence that it’s going to be so. They only question is, whether it will be done in time for us.”
Brook says while the trend of overturning same-sex marriage bans seems to be on the fast track nationally, couples like Lennie and Pearl have been waiting a lifetime. “It is imperative to remember that you know we are representing clients that cannot wait months, years, for this to be resolved in the court system. They need their marriages recognized so they can fully take care of their spouses and children.”
The ACLU notes the impact North Carolina’s “Marriage Amendment” is having on same-sex couples, involving their children, medical decision-making, Social Security Insurance survivor benefits and more.