ACLU pushes for parental rights for same-sex couples in North Carolina

ACLU pushes for parental rights for same-sex couples in North Carolina

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by TONY BURBECK / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC

WCNC.com

Posted on July 9, 2013 at 5:52 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 9 at 6:52 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The ACLU is making a new push for gay marriage and second parent adoption rights, using momentum from the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.

The civil rights group is in the process of amending its lawsuit against the state of North Carolina to add findings and opinions from the recent ruling.

Lee Knight Caffery is a mother of two from Charlotte and a plaintiff in the ACLU’s lawsuit, filed last year.

The lawsuit involves six same-sex couples across the North Carolina who are challenging a state ban on second parent adoption.  It does not allow Caffery’s partner, Dana Draa, to adopt Caffery’s biological children.   Her two children come from a male donor.

"We want the non-legal parent in a relationship to legally adopt the other parent’s children,” Caffery said.

That way, if something happened to Caffery, there wouldn't be a battle over who would take care of and have parental rights over the kids.

That lawsuit has been put on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court tackled the Defense of Marriage Act.

Two weeks ago the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional, meaning the federal government recognizes gay marriage in states where it is legal, and gives more than 1,100 federal benefits to same sex spouses.

That Supreme Court ruling will now be included as an amendment to the ACLU's lawsuit against the state.

It is also expected to include strong language from Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's opinion.

"Talks about the humiliation a lot of children go through because they have parents who are unable to get married,” said Stuart Campbell, Executive Director of Equality North Carolina.

The ACLU’s amended lawsuit will still seek second parent adoption, ask for same sex marriage and recognition, and attempt to declare unconstitutional Amendment One, which voters passed last year, defining marriage between one man and one woman as the only legal union recognized by the state, Caffery said. "If we were able to get married and have these certainties and those protections that everybody else takes for granted, I would sleep so much better at night."

It is now up to Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office to approve the amended lawsuit.  The ACLU says it will seek court approval if Cooper’s office doesn’t ok them.

A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office says they are working with the ACLU but have not yet gotten their hands on the revised document.
 

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