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Asheville, North Carolina. Monday, October 14, 2013
Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger will be the first government official in the South to seek approval to grant same-sex marriage licenses since the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.
Reisinger will accept and hold same-sex marriage applications and push the question of equal marriage rights to the state’s chief legal adviser, Attorney General Roy Cooper.
“I will let each couple know that it is my hope to grant them a license, but I need to seek the North Carolina Attorney General’s approval," Reisinger said. "I have concerns about whether we are violating people's civil rights based on this summer's Supreme Court decision.
The Campaign for Southern Equality notified Reisinger that at least six same-sex couples would request marriage licenses Tuesday. Reisinger will allow the couples to complete and sign their applications. He will accept the applications but withhold his own signature.
“I will then let the Attorney General know that I would like to issue these couples licenses, but that I need his clarification on the laws of the state that seem to contradict the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution,” Reisinger said.
Tuesday will be the first time same-sex couples have requested marriage licenses from Reisinger since the June 26 Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.
Buncombe County, NC Register of Deeds Seeks to Issue Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples
Asheville, N.C. - A statement released Monday night from Drew Reisinger, the Buncombe County Register of Deeds, indicates that he is willing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and will seek an opinion from North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper regarding whether he can do so. Separately on Monday, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced his support for marriage equality for the first time.
Tomorrow morning at 8 a.m., same-sex couples will seek marriage licenses at the Buncombe County Register of Deeds Office as part of the WE DO Campaign, an initiative of the Campaign for Southern Equality. Through the WE DO Campaign, same-sex couples have requested marriage licenses at the Buncombe County Register of Deeds Office multiple times since 2011; to date, all couples have been denied licenses. In preparation for tomorrow’s event, Campaign for Southern Equality staff reached out to Mr. Reisinger to let him know local couples would again be applying; couples also sent him personal messages about why they are seeking legal recognition of their relationships.
“I will let each couple know that it is my hope to grant them a license, but I need to seek the North Carolina Attorney General’s approval," Reisinger said in his statement. "I have concerns about whether we are violating people's civil rights based on this summer's Supreme Court decision.”
“There are neither moral nor legal grounds to justify Amendment One and it’s time for citizens and elected officials to act with conviction and urgency to change it. Mr. Reisinger’s actions are another step forward in the path to full equality for LGBT people,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality. “Attorney General Cooper, who has just announced his support for marriage equality, can choose not to defend Amendment One, as has happened in other states with similar laws. Until this law changes, we will continue to stand with same-sex couples across North Carolina as they ask their local Register of Deeds to issue marriage licenses as an act of conscience.”
Marriage license offices in other states with bans on same-sex marriage, most recently Pennsylvania, have taken the step of issuing licenses to same-sex couples. Similarly, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has refused to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, calling it “wholly unconstitutional.”
"We are hopeful that Attorney General Cooper will do the right thing and recognize our right to marry after 25 years in a committed relationship and having raised 2 kids together,” says Brenda Clark who, with her partner Carol McCrory, will apply for a license in Buncombe County tomorrow as part of the WE DO Campaign. Ms. Clark and Ms. McCrory, residents of Fairview, N.C., have requested - and been denied - marriage licenses at the Buncombe County Register of Deeds Office four times since 2011.
A new Elon poll shows support for gay marriage in NC is growing rapidly and that 68 percent of voters under 30 support marriage rights for same-sex couples: http://www.elon.edu/docs/e-web/elonpoll/092013_ElonPollSummary.pdf.
Buncombe County is home to 1,200 same-sex couples according to the 2010 U.S. Census. This
represents 11.95 same-sex couples per 1,000 households, the highest percentage of any county in North Carolina.
Launched in 2011, the WE DO Campaign has involved more than 90 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) couples requesting marriage licenses in their hometowns across the South to call for full legal equality. During the current stage of the WE DO Campaign, LGBT couples in North Carolina will apply for marriage licenses in their hometowns on the following dates:
August 21: Madison County (completed)
August 30: Forsyth County (completed)
September 16: Guilford County (completed)
October 2: Henderson County (completed)
October 9: Mecklenburg County (completed)
October 15: Buncombe County
November 1: Transylvania County
November 4: Cabarrus County
November 22: Rowan County
Based in the South, the Campaign for Southern Equality is a national effort to assert the full humanity and equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in American life and to increase public support for LGBT rights.