Winners of San Diego wedding contest in national spotlight over gay rights

Kim McKeand and Cari Searcy suing Alabama

SAN DIEGO - A lesbian couple has been thrust into the national spotlight with a story that begins with a contest win and a trip to San Diego.

In a YouTube video, the Alabama couple describes the pain of having a newborn son with a heart defect, along with a hospital staff that objected when the non-biological mother wanted to help care for him.

"It sparked this desire that we have to do something about this," said one of the women in the video.

Kim McKeand gave birth to Khaya in 2005.

McKeand and her partner, Cari Searcy, decided to head to California in 2008, during a window in which gay marriages were being performed.

Before they bought the ticket, the couple learned of a contest from the San Diego Convention Center and Visitors Bureau appealing to same-sex couples looking to get married.

They submitted the 7-minute video and soon after, they were bound for San Diego as winners of an all-expense paid wedding package.

McKeand and Searcy were married at the San Diego County Administration Center.

"It was a dream; a dream all the way around," said McKeand.

Then came a dose a reality when the state of Alabama refused to recognize their marriage. The state had already refused to let Searcy be declared an adoptive parent.

"It's a scary possibility Khaya could be taken away from the only parent he's ever known in a tragic situation," said Searcy.

"We just want equal protection for our family and our child," said McKeand.

The couple got new hope with last year's landmark Supreme Court ruling the federal government must recognize gay marriages performed in states where they are legal.

McKeand and Searcy recently filed suit against Alabama's governor and attorney general.

"If the federal government recognizes marriage from a state like Vermont or California, so should the state of Alabama," said David Kennedy, one of the couple's attorneys.

The lawsuit is one of some 70 similar suits in states that do not allow same-sex marriage.

The couple's suit may be the first where a child is named a plaintiff. The suit claims his rights have been violated.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said he plans to "vigorously defend the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman."

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