ACLU files suit challenging NC gay marriage ban, seeks swift ruling

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The American Civil Liberties Union filed a preliminary injunction in the federal court, pushing for swift action for recognition of three same-sex couples who face serious medical conditions.

The ACLU and law firms Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and Ellis & Winters LLP made the announcement Wednesday at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum.

Immediate relief is sought for Shana Carignan and Megan Parker, a couple in the existing 2012 case Fisher-Borne et al. v. Smith. The couple has a 6-year-old son who suffers from severe cerebral palsy.

Carignan said because she is not the legal guardian of her son Jax, she cannot provide the secondary private insurance for his special needs.

Currently, his care and surgery is through Medicaid.

“There’s a program where Jax could receive secondary insurance through my employer, but because he’s not my legal child we don’t have access to that,” Carignan said. “We have no plans of leaving, we’re just ready for the rest of the state to get on board.”

ACLU legal directors said these families cannot wait any longer for state marriage recognition.

“North Carolina’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples prevents the plaintiff couples from securing hundreds of protections provided in both state and federal law to married couples. If one member of the couple were to die before the state recognizes their marriage, the surviving spouse will be forever denied not only these protections but the dignity that respect from the state affords, such as having one’s relationship acknowledged forever on a death certificate,” the statement reads.

The other plaintiffs include Ellen "Lennie" Gerber and Pearl Berlin of High Point. Berlin is 89 years old and has been hospitalized three times in the past two years. They married last year in Maine, but have been together for 47 years.

Lyn McCoy and Jane Blackburn married in the District of Columbia of 2011, but have been a couple for 22 years. Blackburn has Stage IV Breast Cancer.

Esmeralda Meja and Christina Ginter-Mejia from Hickory married in Maryland in 2013, but have been together for 19 years.

Mejia is a retired Army veteran who has cervical cancer. If Mejia dies, her son with Ginter- Mejia will not receive military benefits.