Case Name: Fisher-Borne et al. v. Smith

The ACLU helped win the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in North Carolina by successfully challenging the state's ban on marriage for same-sex couples.

In 2012, the ACLU and ACLU of North Carolina filed Fisher-Borne et al. v. Smith on behalf of six same-sex couples and their children seeking the right to obtain second parent adoptions for their children, which occur when one partner in an unmarried couple adopts the other partner’s biological or adoptive child.

The lawsuit was formally amended in June 2013 to become the first direct challenge to North Carolina's ban on marriage for same-sex couples.

On October 14, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge William Osteen issued a ruling in the case that found North Carolina’s marriage ban unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs were: Marcie and Chantelle Fisher-Borne, of Durham, and their children Mileyand Elijah; Shana Carignan and Megan Parker, of Greensboro, and their son Jax; Shawn Long and Craig Johnson, of Wake Forest, and their son Isaiah; Crystal Hendrix and Leigh Smith, of Asheville, and their children Quinn and Joe; Lee Knight Caffery and Dana Draa, of Charlotte, and their children Miller and Margot; Leslie Zanaglio and Terri Beck, of Morrisville, and their two sons.


James Esseks, Rose Saxe and Gill of the American Civil Liberties Union; Christopher Brook of the ACLU of North Carolina

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Garrard R. Beeney, David A. Castleman, C. Megan Bradley, W. Rudolph Kleysteuber IV, Daniel W. Meyler and Dustin F. Guzior of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP; and Jonathan D. Sasser and Jeremy M. Falcone at Ellis & Winters LLP.


U.S. District Court, Middle District of North Carolina


William Osteen