@NCCapitol

Same-sex marriage applicants test NC county

Posted October 15, 2013

— An official in western North Carolina has accepted marriage license requests from 10 same-sex couples, despite a 2012 amendment to the state constitution forbidding such marriages.

Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger said he thinks the state's ban is unconstitutional, but he would hold the licenses awaiting legal guidance from the state.

Chief Deputy Attorney General Grayson Kelley sent Reisinger a letter Tuesday noting that a lawsuit has been filed to challenge the constitutional ban.

"Unless the courts rule otherwise or North Carolina law is changed, issuance of a marriage license to a same-sex couple would be a violation of the law," Kelley wrote.

Attorney General Roy Cooper said Monday that he supports gay marriage, but he has said he'll defend the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Brenda Clark and Carol McCrory, a couple who have been together for 25 years, were the first to ask Reisinger for a license Tuesday morning.

Reisinger congratulated them, then said he would ask the attorney general for permission before signing their license.

"I think it's pretty clear that there is a contradiction between state law and federal law, and we want some clarification," Reisinger said.

McCrory praised Reisinger for his courage in accepting their marriage license request. "I'm very proud of you," she said.

The Campaign for Southern Equality has been going from county to county, trying to find someone to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples as part of its "We Do" campaign.

The Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, called Reisinger's action "another step forward in the path to full equality for LGBT people."

Before the 10 couples applied for marriage licenses Tuesday, Beach-Ferrara and 100 supporters gathered in a downtown Asheville church to encourage them.

Beach-Ferrara said they will keep pressing the issue. She called the state's ban on same-sex marriage "morally wrong."

"You can only deal with this for so long. It wears on your soul. It wears on your spirit, and it's wrong," she said.

Reisinger's announcement Monday that he would accept licenses came hours after an Associated Press story revealed that Cooper said he supports same-sex marriage. But Cooper also said his personal views won't prevent him from defending North Carolina's ban in court.

Cooper is named as a defendant and is the state's lead designated attorney in a lawsuit filed by several same-sex couples that was recently expanded to challenge the constitutionality of the amendment in light of a U.S. Supreme Court decision over the summer.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia permit same-sex marriages.

This is the second time the Campaign for Southern Equality has targeted Asheville. The bohemian university town in western North Carolina has a large gay and lesbian population.

Two years ago, a same-sex couple was arrested after refusing to leave Reisinger's office when the pair was turned down for a marriage license. The arrests followed a downtown rally that drew about 300 people, where same-sex couples were blessed by clergy members.

Reisinger recalled that protest and said it was now time to take action. He said he told the attorney general's office last week that he was planning to accept marriage licenses from same-sex couples.

But Reisinger said he would abide by the attorney general's ruling.

"If the attorney general says he will not allow me to issue marriage licenses, then I will respect the law of the land. But if he grants me permission to issue these marriage licenses, I will be excited to be the first in the South to make that happen," he said.

214 Comments

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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Oct 18, 10:28 a.m.

    Wake1 said, "Wait til the Muslims take over - then we'll see gay equality!!"

    If you fight hard for the Separation of Church and State now, then religious influence in our gov't will be restricted and this won't be a problem. Ever.

    But, if you continue to erode this Wall of separation...you will continue to enlarge the opening that anyone can climb through. So, stop doing it. Do unto others.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Oct 18, 10:22 a.m.

    Xscout577 said, “It was VOTED ON & PASSED by majority vote to ban Same-Sex Marriage in the State of North Carolina. Deal with it & drive on.”

    Slavery used to be a majority vote too...for many decades. Are you saying that slaves should just “deal with it”?

    Same for women’s rights. More “deal with it” empathy from you?

    The list goes on. I’m sure the majority would vote to take rights from Atheists like me.

    Do you understand that Might does not necessarily make Right? Have you ever heard of “do unto others”?

  • Xscout577 Oct 16, 4:37 p.m.

    It was VOTED ON & PASSED by majority vote to ban Same-Sex Marriage in the State of North Carolina. Deal with it & drive on.

  • OleNCNative Oct 16, 9:36 a.m.

    WRAL hates hearing this, but it is spot on,

    "He is in violation of the laws of North Carolina. Until they are changed, he is guilty."
    NoTimeForStupidity

    And what law did he violate and how, specifically?

  • WralCensorsAreBias Oct 15, 7:15 p.m.

    WRAL hates hearing this, but it is spot on,

    "He is in violation of the laws of North Carolina. Until they are changed, he is guilty."

  • really02 Oct 15, 7:13 p.m.

    There should be a ban on all marriage that involves the the government. Marriage should not include any contract.

  • lwe1967 Oct 15, 6:33 p.m.

    He is in violation of the laws of North Carolina. Until they are changed, he is guilty. This is a sneaky back door attempt. The law is clear. The Attorney General is wrong and should be relieved. He no longer can be trusted to enforce all of the laws of the State of North Carolina the same.

  • dwntwnboy2 Oct 15, 6:24 p.m.

    "It's amazing how intolerant the homosexual supporters are to views other than their own."- not at all, everyone is free to their own views, its just when those views deny others the same rights as other citizens. Then its more than a "view" or "opinion" and falls into the realm of bigotry since there is no rational reason under the law to deny equality to all citizens.

  • 20K Oct 15, 6:21 p.m.

    Any church that has a gay marriage is not a house of God!!! Any minister that performs a gay marriage ceremony is not a man of God either!!!

  • jonstewartrules Oct 15, 6:19 p.m.

    Was that the sound of yet ANOTHER "Christian Conservative" proclaiming their version of the Bible is better than everyone elses yet AGAIN? Please, tell everyone exactly how they've sinned and how the Bible backs up your hatred 100% with all kinds of great Biblical passages. But wait! There's MORE! Then please, tell everyone here exactly what the Bible MEANS or MEANT to say, just in case you need it to match your prejudices. Please don't forget to leave out all of the references to all of the OTHER sins YOU happen to enjoy on a daily basis. You know, the ones that really are just silly and shouldn't apply to you anyway, because they really aren't "abominations" like the sins YOU hate. We'd appreciate it!

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