Local News

Bragg same-sex couples part of effort to overturn gay marriage ban

Posted April 18

— Two families from Fort Bragg have moved front and center in a legal battle to throw out North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage.

Equality North Carolina and a similar group in South Carolina filed a brief with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that state laws against gay marriage hurt military families.

The appellate court in Richmond, Va., is scheduled next month to hear a challenge to a federal judge's ruling overturning Virginia's law barring same-sex marriages. The 4th U.S. Circuit includes North Carolina, so the court's ruling – likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court by whichever side loses – could affect North Carolina's laws.

"As a military family, we have had a lot of headaches living in North Carolina," Ashley Broadway-Mack said Friday.

She married Lt. Col. Heather Mack, who is based at Fort Bragg, in Washington, D.C., and the couple has two children. Although the Army recognizes their marriage, North Carolina doesn't.

"I’m basically considered a roommate to my spouse,” Broadway-Mack said. “So, we don’t have any legal protections in North Carolina as a married couple.”

For example, state law allows only one person in a same-sex couple to adopt children.

"In the eyes of the state of North Carolina, I have no legal right to adopt them," Broadway-Mack said, noting that she fears what will happen if her spouse is killed in action.

Mack is on deployment.

"These are folks who are the most deserving of the protections – the common-sense protections – that marriage offers them on post but not off post," said Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality North Carolina.

Sgro said it's important for the appeals court to hear stories of service members who must confront discrimination on the home-front.

Staff Sgt. Tracy Johnson of Raeford also is highlighted in the legal brief. Her spouse, Donna, was killed in Afghanistan, but she cannot collect survivor benefits because, under federal law, the state where the survivor lives has to define eligible family members.

"It has always been a precedent in our country that states get to set, to determine their own domestic-policy issues," said Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition.

Fitzgerald helped lead the campaign for the 2012 constitutional amendment defining marriage in North Carolina.

"Just because some gay military couples – and there are very few – want to get military veterans benefits is no reason to overturn North Carolina's marriage amendment," she said.

North Carolina has two challenges to its same-sex marriage ban pending before federal judges.

One challenges the state's law on second-parent adoptions – the issue that Broadway-Mack faces – while the other, which was filed last week, seeks an expedited decision on the ban for three same-sex couples who face health concerns. The Attorney General's Office has asked for a delay in the latter case because the 4th U.S. Circuit's ruling could affect it.

58 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Oldest First
View all
  • scarlett2 Apr 22, 4:51 p.m.

    I used to work for a prominent hospital. I was married, had one child. When my daughter turned 18 and was not in school or college full-time, I could not continue her health insurance; the hospital cancelled it. Yet according to their policies, if I had a lesbian with a woman living with me, I could have gotten full coverage health insurance on the lesbian lover, for a union that is illegal in this state but no insurance for my own flesh and blood child. I quit working there since I disagreed with their policies regarding legal families.

  • scarlett2 Apr 22, 4:47 p.m.

    The citizens of this state were given the right to vote on this issue and we voted to ban gay marriage in this state; to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The voters have spoken on this issue.

  • jackaroe123 Apr 21, 5:03 p.m.

    Why weren't civil unions with the same benefits as marriage not good enough?

    Do I presume correctly, then, that you voted against the marriage amendment b/c it spitefully went too far in banning civil unions, as well? B/c if not, you're just bargaining on that point now b/c you see the writing on the wall and it's all going to be overturned. And where you would draw the line is ridiculous. It doesn't hurt you or anyone else if someone else refers to their union as a 'marriage.' It's just petty and hateful to make this about the exact labels people are permitted to use.

  • krimson Apr 21, 3:38 p.m.

    Atozca: "Why weren't civil unions with the same benefits as marriage not good enough?"

    Perhaps we should ask the GA, who decided that "Civil Unions" wouldn't be recognized under NC Law either...

  • krimson Apr 21, 3:36 p.m.

    Atozca: "The purpose of recognizing marriages and giving benefits was to help parents as they raise the next generation."

    Did you happen to notice in the photo at the top of this story that the family involved has two children???

    Atozca: "Why weren't civil unions with the same benefits as marriage not good enough?"

    "Separate but Equal" as a basis of law was debunked long ago...

  • dwntwnboy2 Apr 21, 3:26 p.m.

    "I do hope and pray NC will fight this"- why? So that they can waste taxpayer dollars to defend something even the backers KNOW won't stand for long- they said as much before their horror of Amendment One was thrust upon our good state. As for who reads what "holy book"- doesn't matter- there is more than one religion, more than one god worshiped now and will be more to come. Religion is a choice, being gay isn't.

  • 678devilish Apr 21, 3:25 p.m.

    NORTH CAROLINA CONTINUE THE FIGHT AGAINST SAME SEX MARRIAGE! I WILL VOTE NO IF THERE IS ANOTHER VOTE.

  • dwntwnboy2 Apr 21, 3:24 p.m.

    "So in essence, homosexuals want the benefits of marriage even though they can never produce the next generation"- many gays I know DO have children- either from previous hetro relationships or through adoption of the unwanted children of straight people. They deserve the same rights to protect their family as anyone else. The "definition" of marriage has been changed many many times throughout history- and will more than likely change again at some point. Civil Unions don't have the same weight of protection under the law that the term "marriage" does, and since marriage is a state sponsored, legally binding contract, there is no rational reason to deny two people the chance to fuse their lives together under protection of law for both of them and any children they decide to raise later on.

  • 678devilish Apr 21, 3:16 p.m.

    what is being asked is to change the definition of marriage.

    You and I know what marriage is. There is going to be serious consequences because of their "life-Style". You can tell who reads the bible and believe in God/Jesus. All you can really do is pray for them. But I do hope and pray NC will fight this.

  • mcloudcollin Apr 21, 2:59 p.m.

    What assumptions you make. Because my opinion differs from yours, my logic is absurd and and I'm... View More

    You are entitled to your opinion. Where you impose that opinion on others' lives is where there... View More

    — Posted by jackaroe123

    I haven't "forced" anything on anyone. I merely stated my opinion on the subject. Again, debate is over.

More...