Gay marriage backers, foes mark NC amendment anniversary
Posted May 8, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Supporters and opponents of the constitutional amendment that essentially banned same-sex marriage in North Carolina held rallies in downtown Raleigh on Thursday to mark the second anniversary of its passage.
Three same-sex couples applied for marriage licenses at the Wake County Register of Deeds office as part of the "WE DO" campaign launched by the Asheville-based Campaign for Southern Equality, but they were denied licenses.
Six other couples recorded their out-of-state marriage licenses at the Register of Deeds office to create a public record of their marriage in North Carolina, despite it having no legal impact.
The couples were joined by local clergy, including Rev. Nancy Petty of Raleigh's Pullen Memorial Baptist Church.
Register of Deeds Laura Riddick said her office "is not the proper forum for either a public policy debate or a political protest," as her staff only administers state law and doesn't set it.
"If at some point the law changes, we will apply it with the same administrative impartiality, diligence and professionalism as we do today," Riddick said in a statement.
Trudy and Justine Price-O'Neil, both teachers from Wake County who were married in Massachusetts in 2010, said they wanted to put a face on the same-sex marriage issue by getting their marriage recorded in North Carolina.
"People just don't know gay people or a gay family, and this is what a gay family looks like," Justine Price-O'Neil said.
She said it's important for her and her partner that North Carolina recognize their marriage, not only for legal issues such as taxes and insurance but also to support their.
"When that passed two years ago May 8th, I was eight months pregnant with Prestyn," Justine Price-O'Neil said. "It was hurtful to be bringing a child into this world that was in a state that doesn't recognize us as a real family, and we want to show that we are a real family."
A few hours later, the North Carolina Values Coalition and other groups opposed to gay marriage rallied outside the State Capitol.
"There are a lot of attacks going on right now against the amendment by people who don't like it in the state, but the truth is that the majority of North Carolinians still support marriage as between one man and one woman," said Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the Values Coalition.
Amendment backers stressed the Bible, the sanctity of marriage and righteousness in what amounted to a pep rally to keep fighting against gay marriage.
"It's not us that has decided that marriage should be between one man and one woman. It's God that has decided that," rally attendee Brian Norman said.
Several gay couples and clergy members have filed federal lawsuits challenging North Carolina's ban.
Seventeen states allow gay marriage, and federal judges have struck down bans in Michigan, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia.