Same-sex couples, allies urge Gov. McCrory not to defend state's gay marriage ban

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RALEIGH, North Carolina — Same-sex couples and allies who want Gov. Pat McCrory to keep out of lawsuits challenging the state's gay marriage ban say it's past time for them to have the same privileges as other married couples.

Gay rights advocates delivered to McCrory's office petitions with 5,000 names of people urging him not to defend the 2012 constitutional amendment approved by voters limiting marriage to a man and a woman. About 6,000 more petitions were delivered Wednesday to McCrory's offices in Charlotte and near Asheville, according to groups Equality NC and Freedom to Marry.

McCrory spokesman Ryan Tronovitch referred Wednesday to a statement he made weeks ago that the issue will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. McCrory has also called on the state's attorney general to seek a stay in the North Carolina lawsuits.

Three lawsuits challenging North Carolina's amendment have taken on more meaning as federal judges have struck down similar laws and constitutional bans in other states, including neighboring Virginia.

The North Carolina amendment "is hurting our family and families like ours and we want to make sure the governor no longer supports defending this ban," Marcie Fisher-Borne of Durham said outside the old Capitol building with Chantelle Fisher-Borne, and their two children. The women, who were legally married in Washington, D.C., are plaintiffs in one of the lawsuits.

Once the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel found the Virginia ban unlawful in late July, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced his office would no longer defend North Carolina's similar amendment, calling it "futile." The court's rulings apply to North Carolina, although the U.S. Supreme Court last week granted a request to delay the lower court's ruling.

A federal judge late last week issued a stay for one of the North Carolina lawsuits until the U.S. Supreme Court decides on the Virginia case.

Cooper's statement opens the door for legislative leaders and possibly McCrory to use other attorneys to defend the amendment on the state's behalf, although no action has been taken. Legislative leaders said last week no decision had been made.

Socially conservative church leaders held a rally last month outside the Capitol asking for McCrory to step in and defend the amendment by using his executive powers. They planned to send to their own petition to McCrory.

Graham Dixon of Raleigh, who married Mike Amburn in New York in 2012, said the ban makes it harder for them to take out insurance policies or file taxes, including the receipt of adoption tax credits related to their infant daughter, Jamie. The three of them attended the petition drop-off event in Raleigh.

"There's no reason to waste anymore taxpayer money on this," Dixon said. This is going to happen."

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