By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
July 16, 2013
RALEIGH — A suit initially challenging the state’s adoption laws is on the verge of becoming a full-fledged legal attack on North Carolina’s one-man/one-woman definition of marriage, as Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office has announced that it will not oppose a motion filed by the American Civil Liberties Union to expand the case.
Noelle Talley, a Department of Justice information officer, told the media late last week that because litigation was expected on both issues, combining them into one case would be more efficient.
But Tami Fitzgerald, chairwoman for Vote for Marriage NC, pointed out that the people of North Carolina passed the marriage amendment by 61 percent, and said “they deserve better from their Attorney General.”
“The case has been before the judge now for nine months on a motion to dismiss,” Fitzgerald said. “Roy Cooper is making a misguided decision for the people of North Carolina.”
She further explained that the constitutionality of the amendment is outside the scope of a lawsuit regarding adoption by gay couples.
Originating in July 2012, the ACLU’s suit, Fisher v. Smith, was filed in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of North Carolina on behalf of six same-sex couples. The case is a challenge to the state’s adoption laws, which llow for adoption only by married couples or single individuals, but not by unmarried pairs. The same-sex couples are demanding to be able to adopt one another’s children via a so-called “second parent” adoption, an arrangement which robs children of either a mom or a dad.
If the ACLU is allowed by the federal court district judge to amend its suit, it will challenge the state’s Marriage Protection Amendment as a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Its case comes just weeks after the Supreme Court of the United States not only ruled against a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, allowing partners who have wed in states that have legalized same-sex marriage to qualify for U.S. government benefits, but also against the standing of those who tried to defend California’s constitutional amendment (Prop. 8) because the Attorney General’s office in that state refused to defend it. The court, however, did not rule on whether states have a right to outlaw such “marriages.”
The suit filed in Greensboro is part of a larger strategy by the ACLU.
“The ACLU is trying to create a constitutional right to gay marriage under which the people of the 50 states could no longer vote on the issue or decide it on a state-by-state basis,” wrote Ken Klukowski, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council. He said the ACLU also endorses a constitutional right to polygamy, which may be where the organization is eventually headed with its legal push.
Looking to the future, Klukowski said the North Carolina case could be decided by early next year, which could lead to a further Court of Appeals ruling by late 2014 and send the issue — whether the Fourteenth Amendment includes a right to redefine marriage to include homosexual couples — back to the Supreme Court a year later.
“A decision supporting that premise would strike down traditional-marriage laws in all 37 states that have them and forever forbid the American people from voting again on the issue,” he wrote.
The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said it is imperative the Attorney General’s Office does all it can to properly and passionately represent the state in the heightened ACLU case.
“This first move, not opposing the suit’s expansion, leaves us questioning if the Attorney General is committed to vigorously supporting the will of the people,” Dr. Creech said. “The people of North Carolina have spoken on this issue by large margins as of 2012, via the Marriage Protection Amendment. They deserve to have their state’s Constitution zealously defended. At this point, the Attorney General has demonstrated a little less than a lukewarm appreciation for their voice in the matter.”