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Same-sex couples line up for marriage licenses, adoption papers

Posted October 13, 2014

— Same-sex couples streamed into county register of deeds offices across North Carolina Monday to obtain marriage licenses.

A federal judge struck down the state's gay marriage ban late Friday. Although some county register of deeds offices remained open after 5 p.m. on Friday to start issuing licenses – 51 were issued in Wake County – many couples who waited Friday for a ruling legalizing gay marriage in North Carolina had already left by the time the judge's decision came down.

Even though Monday was Columbus Day, which is a federal holiday, county offices were open, meaning register of deeds offices could accommodate couples that showed up for a marriage license. The state has prepared a revised license form that is gender neutral, asking for the names of applicant 1 and applicant 2 instead of husband and wife.

After picking up their licenses at the Wake County Justice Center, many couples headed to magistrate's courtrooms, nearby churches or Nash Square across the street, where a minister was waiting, to get married.

Wake County issued another 37 same-sex licenses Monday, while Orange, Johnston, Chatham, Granville and Wayne counties issued their first licenses to same-sex couples. Officials in other area counties said they hadn't yet had any applicants.

Some couples said their children were the primary reason they wanted to get married or have their marriages from other states recognized in North Carolina.

Craig Johnson and Shawn Long have been together 20 years and have a 12-year-old son, Isaiah. They are one of the families that sued the state to overturn the gay marriage ban and had planned to marry as soon as possible but had to wait until Monday because Johnson was at Isaiah's soccer tournament in South Carolina.

"Now, Isaiah will have two legally recognized parents so that, in the event that something happens to me, Shawn has legal rights," Johnson said. "Shawn is able to make legal decisions (and) medical decisions for Isaiah. That is the crucial thing. That is the most important thing about today."

Chantelle and Marcie Fisher-Borne are another of the families who challenged the gay marriage ban in the courts. They were married in Washington, D.C., a few years ago, and on Monday, they filed petitions in Durham County court to adopt each other's child.

"In the eyes of North Carolina, they are legal strangers to each other," Marcie Fisher-Borne said. "I'm a legal stranger to our son, Chantelle to our daughter, and today, we are going to change that."

The adoption process usually takes 90 days, but the family's attorney said they plan to request a rush and likely will get it completed in a few weeks.

"We've been married in our hearts for a long time. It's about time the state catch up to honor and respect our families," Chantelle Fisher-Borne said.

Not everyone is pleased about their new-found rights. Rev. Patrick Wooden, pastor of Upper Room Church of God in Christ in Raleigh, said children need both a mother and a father.

"I personally do not believe that moms and dads are optional. I think they are essential to the make-up of a family," Wooden said.

Republican legislative leaders are trying to keep North Carolina's gay marriage ban in place. A federal judge in Greensboro is hearing their effort to intervene in another same-sex marriage case.

"It feels like it's the end, but there's always that nagging will there be some other legal challenge," Long said, explaining the desire of many same-sex couples to marry as quickly as possible.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Oct 15, 2014

    Someone may want to tell Jesus that he can now get married in NC.

  • bechdel13 Oct 14, 2014

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    A legal scholar such as yourself would know that the examples you listed are not legally analogous to gay marriage. In the case of intra-family marriages there is a compelling state interest in preventing them due to the prevalence of health issues that arise in the children of such unions. In the case of minors and the severely mentally challenged, the question is whether the parties are legally able to enter into a contract and give informed consent to the process.

    Marriage, from the state's point of view, is no more than a contractual agreement between two parties. There is no compelling legal reason to bar two consenting adults from entering into a contract regardless of gender. That would be denying them equal protection under the law.

  • Joseph Shepard Oct 14, 2014
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    Someone that has 26 years of Constitutional Study doesn't need an explanation that Marriage is a Right (as opined over 12 times by SCOTUS), and as such the State Gov't is mandated to apply equal protection to all citizens regarding marriage.
    Read more at http://www.wral.com/share/page/1896337/?id=14072152#q6htVjIy57BBtbU2.99 KRIMSON"
    True the courts have established the basic right to marriage--but it is still the states perogative as to the requirements needing to be met for marriage to be allowed. While marriage itself is, once again, a religious tenet and practice--it is not for the government to step in an usurp the states right to define what is and is not allowable. It is the states who prohibit the marriage of minors, the marriage of brothers and sisters, or 1st cousins. In some cases it prohibits the marriage of two people who are mentally challenged beyond a certain level. Will the government at some point step in and mandate changes to those proscriptions?

  • Tony Snark Oct 14, 2014

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    ...yet. And that is irrelevant. This was a fight for a constitutional right, and it is up to the individual when, how, and if they will exercise it at all.

  • Pepe Silvia Oct 14, 2014

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    Just because they finally have the right to marry does not mean every same sex couple has to run out and do it in the first few days to prove something. Many couples were married in other states already. Others are planning their wedding and want to actually have a ceremony.

    Not only that, not every gay person in NC is currently 1) in a relationship and 2) at the point in that relationship that they want to get married. Doesn't mean they don't want or deserve to have that option later in life.

    Heterosexuals can get married right this moment. Quick, every single hetero couple - no matter if you've had one date or been together for years - go get married or you're proving you don't want the right! (See how silly that sounds?)

  • Terry Watts Oct 14, 2014
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    Someone that has 26 years of Constitutional Study doesn't need an explanation that Marriage is a Right (as opined over 12 times by SCOTUS), and as such the State Gov't is mandated to apply equal protection to all citizens regarding marriage.

  • katelynnwalk Oct 14, 2014

    I am a strong believer that a marriage should be between a man and a woman, because that's how God intended it to be in the beginning.. but I also think that as long as you have someone and you love them, that it's ok. I have plenty of gay friends, and to think that they can't ever be acceptced is wrong, gay or not. Who are we to Judge? God is to make that final decision whenever he calls us home.

  • Lorna Schuler Oct 14, 2014
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    State government has no more right than Federal government to makes laws based on religious beliefs. Separation of church and state apply to all levels of government.

    This country was not founded on Christianity. It was in fact founded on freedom... freedom to practice whatever faith/religion or not without fear persecution.

    Remember why the Pilgrims came here? Remember the destruction and death brought about by the Crusades and many other "religious" wars? Remember the persecutions by the Church of England?

  • davidhartman Oct 14, 2014

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    Very few get married; this is all about validating their lifestyle & eradicating opposition.

  • dwntwnboy2 Oct 14, 2014

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    - not at all. Some of us are in the process of planning now that it's legal. No need to rush into it now that we have the right to it.