Local Politics

Definition of family at stake in NC marriage fight

Posted October 7, 2014

— A day after the Supreme Court declined to hear state appeals in support of a ban on same-sex marriage, couples in Raleigh suing for the right to marry spoke out in favor of a quick overturn of North Carolina's ban.

"We don't need to be waiting another 10 days," said Chris Brook, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union in North Carolina.

North Carolina's constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman has been challenged in court and would be subject to the ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that overturned Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage.

"Everyone agrees that the Virginia and North Carolina marriage bans are legally indistinguishable," Brook said.

After that ruling, federal Judge William Osteen Jr. issued a stay of any change in North Carolina pending a Supreme Court action. The court's decision Monday leaves the Virginia ruling in place and, Osteen wrote in an order, leaves him likely to overturn the North Carolina ban.

Osteen gave parties to the marriage law challenge in North Carolina 10 days to file status reports before he takes any action.

Brook pledged that his group, which represents nine families, would have their update to Osteen well within the 10-day deadline.

"Love has won. The time for playing politics with any North Carolina families is done," said Jen Jones, director of communications for Equality NC.

Supporters of the North Carolina status quo disagreed, even on the point of whether Virginia's ban is similar enough to overturn North Carolina's.

"We were very disappointed in the Supreme Court's refusal to take any of the cases," said John Rustin, president of the NC Family Policy Council.

Rustin believes there are nuances in the many cases that could yet lead to a Supreme Court decision.

"The Supreme Court may be waiting for a contrary opinion to come out of one of the other districts that have not had a marriage case come forth yet,” he said.

"We have strongly encouraged both the governor and our legislative leaders to intervene in order to provide a defense for our marriage laws and our constitutional amendment."

House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate Leader Phil Berger said Monday afternoon that they are prepared to do just that, even if it means a North Carolina case ends up back before the 4th Circuit.

“The people of North Carolina have spoken, and while the Supreme Court has not issued a definitive ruling on the issue of traditional marriage, we are hopeful they will soon,” said Tillis and Berger. “Until then, we will vigorously defend the values of our state and the will of more than 60 percent of North Carolina voters who made it clear that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

Definition of family at stake

The families present Tuesday emphasized their similarities to straight couples, and said a legal action won't change their day-to-day lives.

"The difference will be that we will rest assured that our love and commitment to each other and our children will be honored by our state," said Chantelle Fisher-Borne. She and her wife, Marcie, wed in Washington, D.C., and have two children.

"I love my wife. I love our kids, and that's why we do this. People don't get married because they want health insurance. We get married because we want to share our lives together," she said.

Shawn Long pointed out that the status quo leaves him with no parental rights for the child he is raising with partner Craig Johnson.

"The complete driving force is our son, Isaiah," Long said. Current law doesn't allow Long to adopt Isaiah.

"Our country is based upon the idea of freedom and equality, and this is what this is all about," Long said.

"I look forward great expectation to the time when Shawn and I can say, 'Yes, we are husbands,'" Johnson said.

That's a description that bothers NC Family Policy Council's Rustin even more. His group believes children raised by same sex couples are missing out.

"By approving same-sex marriage, you are by default depriving that child that is raised in that household of either a mother or a father," he said.

"Thousands of years of human history shows it is within that relationship between a man and a woman, a married man and a woman, that children are not only conceived naturally, but it is the best environment for raising children and providing them all the essential ingredients they need to be raised in a productive household and a productive environment,” Rustin said.


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  • murex Oct 9, 2014

    From www.dictionary.com

    family: a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not: the traditional family.

  • murex Oct 9, 2014

    I don't believe that the definition of marriage or family are in threat at all, if one were to refer to the dictionary.

  • srw4720 Oct 9, 2014

    To Lightfoot3

    if you would read a Bible you would understand, God's Love is completely unconditional, but His Salvation is completely conditional. God is not going to approve of something that he has already said is sin and then change his mind. That is a 100% guarantee. God loves all mankind, his creation, but hates OUR (including mine) sin.

  • PracticalMagick Oct 8, 2014

    FWIW, If there are persons involved in long term relationships, no matter the gender, they should be afforded the same benefits (insurance, next of kin, etc) that married couples get.

    Can you imagine living the bulk of your adult life with someone you adore, raised a child with, had a life with and something happens to that person, and because there was no marriage you then find yourself with no rights? You're not "family" so you may not be able to get into the ICU to see them. Maybe the house isn't in your name and now you have no legal claim to your home of many years (preventable, yet some don't realize...). Survivor's benefits? Not happening, because your relationship isn't recognized because you didn't have a piece of paper.

    All that said...if a same gender couple obtains a marriage license, how does it affect you? It isn't hurting anyone...

  • Lightfoot3 Oct 8, 2014

    God told me he's fine with gay marriage. Why aren't the preachers and right wing getting the same message? Or are they ignoring what God has to say?

    "Would you be against a man marrying two women or vice versa?" - Confucius say

    The bible condones it. Mormons condone it. Some cultures condone it. I don't have a problem with it as it doesn't affect me or anyone other that those in that consensual relationship.

  • Pensive01 Oct 8, 2014

    View quoted thread

    In the state on NC there was never a law that made same sex marriage illegal, the law that was written only made same sex marriage not legally valid, i.e. the state did not recognize the existence of it. That is in marked contrast to interracial marriages which at one time were illegal, and for which you could have gotten sentenced for being in one, but which are now legal I the state of NC as of the passage the law that allowed it in 1977.

  • ivanhoe2014nc Oct 8, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Oh look! An entirely irrelevant observation made by someone trying to obfuscate the discussion.

  • ivanhoe2014nc Oct 8, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Who cares. I great many people don't accept your mythology even though it is legal. Did you have a teeny tiny little point or something?

  • srw4720 Oct 8, 2014

    The wall is now broken. You might say all of these arguements of marriage are against the law, but until now gay marriages were against the law. And you wanted Equality. A little history lesson.
    In 1972, when abortion was made legal, it was in the first trimester only. Well, PP, NARAL and the ACLU said if it is legal it must be allowed later. So abortions were conducted in all 9 months. Well that was not enough, so now we have partial-birth abortions, where a breached baby, not a fetus, is born with their head still in the birth canal, and scissors are inserted in the back of the baby's neck, opened and the brains sucked out. We must have Equality if we actually believe in Equality. This is the same wall that is now broken in marriage. You will not be able to deny anyone of legal age to marry, period. This will take a while, but it is coming and I do not believe that all of the LBGT community is in favor of this or has even thought of the ramifications of this decision.

  • Lightfoot3 Oct 8, 2014

    "Would it be Equality for a man to marry his 16 yr old daughter or a woman to marry her 17 yr old son, or 3 women, or 4 men, or 3 couples or whatever?" - srw4720

    Or interracial marriage? If you're afraid of a slippery slope, then you need to ban ALL marriages.

    "Folks who believe in traditional marriage do not hate LGBT folks but believe that these principles and standards are the absolute best way to encourage a stable and civil society." - srw4720

    When they petition the government to ban gay marriage, yet do nothing about divorce, fornication, adultery, etc, then yes I do believe the opposition is based on hate and bigotry.