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North Carolina

N.C. county official plans to accept marriage applications from gay couples

Says he will hold licences until he receives advice from Attorney General
Monday, October 14, 2013

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Buncombe County Register of Deeds says he’s going to accept marriage license applications from same-sex couples and seek an opinion from North Carolina’s top lawyer.

A 2012 amendment to North Carolina’s Constitution forbids same-sex couples from marrying. But Drew Reisinger said Monday he will hold the licenses and then ask state Attorney General Roy Cooper for legal advice.

Drew Reisinger

Drew Reisinger

“I am more than willing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples, but I want to have the legal clarification of my attorney general Roy Cooper,” Reisinger told The Associated Press.

He said he felt compelled to take action.

“I was frustrated turning down marriage licenses from upstanding citizens from my community again and again. I had a handful of friends come into my office and request licenses and we had to deny them specifically because of their sexual orientation. And I just didn’t feel like it was fair anymore,” Reisinger said.

“It reached a point where if we can legally grant marriage licenses to gay people, we would like to do that,” he said.

The initial word from the attorney general’s office was that he cannot legally grant the licenses.

Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman for Cooper, said in a written statement “these marriage licenses cannot be issued.”

“This is the law unless the Constitution is changed or the court says otherwise. This very issue is the subject of pending litigation against the State of North Carolina,” Talley 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.

Group spokesman Aaron Sarver said at least six same-sex couples will show up Tuesday at the Register of Deeds office in Asheville to request marriage licenses.

The Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, p raised Reisinger’s action, calling it “another step forward in the path to full equality for LGBT people.”

Reisinger’s announcement came hours after Cooper revealed 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 ar rests 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 he was planning to accept marriage licenses from same-sex couples.

When same-sex couples arrive at his office Tuesday morning, he said he will ask them to fill out the traditional forms, then send those papers to the attorney general’s office.

“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.

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18 more reader comments:

  1. small steps..

    Posted on Monday, October 14, 2013 at 10:51pm
  2. So people will pay to be married but have no benefits of it being legal…seems like fraud to me…

    Posted on Monday, October 14, 2013 at 10:52pm
  3. Then why accept them in the first place???

    Posted on Monday, October 14, 2013 at 10:53pm
  4. That awkward moment when your gay friend comes into the office lol

    Posted on Monday, October 14, 2013 at 10:55pm
  5. Dude process the applications, and let change take over…

    Posted on Monday, October 14, 2013 at 10:58pm
  6. N.C is always slow

    Posted on Monday, October 14, 2013 at 11:00pm
  7. He has to accept them to start the process. If the AG says they.can’t be processed then it opens up the legal system for the battle to shoot down the discrimination

    Posted on Monday, October 14, 2013 at 11:02pm
  8. Go Drew Reisinger GO!

    Posted on Monday, October 14, 2013 at 11:16pm
  9. Well I give him kudos for taking a bold step in NC. They are loons there that dont want students or blacks to vote and they boldly say it when they dont think tape is running.

    Posted on Monday, October 14, 2013 at 11:20pm
  10. That is a first step. Baby steps. Hoping Nj overturns the horrible governors veto. And Nj can be the next state to start marriage Equality.

    Posted on Monday, October 14, 2013 at 11:25pm
  11. Baby steps.

    Posted on Monday, October 14, 2013 at 11:57pm
  12. Do it!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 12:07am
  13. At least it is a start here in nc..glad to see the wheels slowing turning…finally!

    Posted on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 12:09am
  14. *sigh* this place sometimes…

    Posted on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 12:40am
  15. I love my home state. I just want it to love me back =/

    Posted on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 12:43am
  16. They are so very wrong to do that.

    Posted on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 4:09am
  17. N.C. comical all the way

    Posted on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 7:41am
  18. if they charge & accept money for these applications, they’ll be liable for a class-action suit

    Posted on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 9:57am