Skip to main content

North Carolina's odious Amendment One, which wrote a ban on same-sex marriage into the state constitution, could be deep-sixed later this year when the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rules on whether to uphold a Virginia federal judge's order striking down that state's gay marriage ban.  The chances are pretty good that the Fourth Circuit will let that ruling stand, given that it has a majority of Democratic-appointed judges.  But three North Carolina couples aren't wanting to wait for the Fourth Circuit.  Citing health concerns with one partner in each couple, earlier today they filed suit in federal court seeking an immediate end to North Carolina's ban.

he appeals court decision, which legal experts say likely would apply to the Carolinas and West Virginia, could come by fall.

Given the health issues affecting the couples, that’s too long to wait, said Chris Brook, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, which helped file a motion today for immediate court relief.

“While we are exceptionally encouraged and heartened by the Virginia case, there’s no set timeline on when the Fourth Circuit could rule,” Brook said.

“These couples are being harmed now. That’s why we’re filing. We believe their marriages should be recognized today. Not in a few months. Not in a few years. That may be too late.”

One of the plaintiffs is Esmerelda Mejia, a Desert Storm veteran from Hickory who has battled cervical and lung cancer since 1992.  She and her partner of 19 years, Christina Ginter-Mejia, have a seven-year-old adopted son.  However, North Carolina only recognizes Christina as the boy's mother, even though they were legally married in Maryland.  They can't get any of Esmerelda's veterans' benefits as long as North Carolina refuses to recognize their marriage even though they were legally married in Maryland last year.  Additionally, Christina has not been able to go on family leave to be there for Esmerelda's numerous procedures.  Esmerelda fears she may not survive the next one, and wants North Carolina to recognize her as Christina's wife.

The stories of the other two plaintiffs, profiled here, are no less gut-wrenching.  One of the nominal lead plaintiffs, Pearl Berlin, has been hospitalized several times in the last three years.  However, her partner of almost 48 years, Lonnie Gerber, hasn't been able to be with her in the hospital for much of that time even though they were legally married in Maine last year.  Jane Blackburn and Lyn McCoy have been together since 1991 and were legally married in DC in 2011.  Blackburn has Stage IV breast cancer, and wants North Carolina to recognize her marriage to McCoy before she dies.

There's already a challenge to Amendment One pending before federal judge William Osteen.  By all accounts, though, Osteen is waiting for the Fourth Circuit to rule on the Virginia case.  That ruling may not come until the fall, though.  Hopefully this latest suit will go somewhere.

Originally posted to Southern Action on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 03:52 PM PDT.

Also republished by Kossacks for Marriage Equality and LGBT Rights are Human Rights.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site