In the Matter of N.C.

The ACLU-NJ, in conjunction with the ACLU LGRP, filed an amicus brief in support of a fiveyear- old boy, N.C., who is seeking survivor benefits following his non-biological mother's death. N.C.'s biological mother (E.K.) and her lesbian partner (C.C.) were already in a longterm relationship when they decided to have a child. E.K. was the biological parent and their son, N.C., took the non-biological mother's last name. Although C.C. had planned on legally adopting N.C., she had not done so at the time of her death (when N.C. was three years old). A child qualifies for Social Security survivor benefits if s/he is entitled to inherit property under the state inheritance laws. Therefore, while the case is in a federal forum and must be appealed in federal court, the court should apply New Jersey state law. The ACLU brief argues that New Jersey law entitles N.C. to inherit C.C.'s property given that New Jersey recognizes "psychological parents." (This holding comes from a previous ACLU-NJ case, titled V.C., involving visitation rights of a lesbian non-biological parent.) We also argue that New Jersey laws allow survivor benefits if there was a contract to adopt but it had simply not been completed, as in this case. We filed our brief in October 2003.

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