Gay-Marriage Debate Hits Chapel Hill
Posted March 23, 2004 5:39 a.m. EST
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The debate over same-sex marriages has spread to the Triangle. A member of the Chapel Hill Town Council wants to expand the rights of gays and lesbians.
Some want state lawmakers to do away with the 'Defense of Marriage Act' so that same-sex marriages performed in other states would be recognized here.
It is not unusual to see demonstrations in Chapel Hill. The town embraces controversial issues.
It is not unusual to see colorful characters rallying for their cause. And now, there comes another for the town.
Town Council member Mark Kleinschmidt wants to repeal a state law so that Chapel Hill will recognize gay marriages performed legally in other states.
"It's our responsibility as a community that recognizes the importance of these citizens -- gay and lesbian citizens -- to bring them into the fold of equality," Kleinschmidt said.
Equality, according to Kleinschmidt, means same-sex unions get the same rights afforded to marriages between a man and a woman -- like insurance and other benefits.
"My goal is marriage equality for all people," he said.
Chapel Hill would be the first town in North Carolina to recognize gay marriages performed legally in other states. It already provides same-sex benefits for its employees.
Three other cities that recognize gay marriages performed legally in other states are Baltimore, Md., Atlanta, Ga., and San Diego.
Kleinschmidt's proposal will be discussed at a public forum on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, a gay couple is suing nearby Durham County after being denied a marriage license Monday.
Richard Mullinax and Perry Pike walked into the Durham County Register of Deeds and asked for a license. They completed the application process, then were denied.
After that, the couple of five years walked across the street to the courthouse and filed a lawsuit against the county.