County Official In N.C. Accepts Marriage License From Same Sex Couple
Photo of Reisinger being sworn in via Facebook
A county official in Buncombe County, NC, accepted a marriage license from a gay couple on Tuesday Morning, according to AP. County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger, who’s tasked with accepting (but not making official) or denying marriage licenses to couples, accepted the license application of Brenda Clark and Carol McCrory, a couple of 25 years.
This incident comes in the wake of North Carolina’s AG Roy Cooper expressing his support of gay marriage, while simultaneously declaring his intentions of defending the state constitution on Monday. While the latter part of his announcement has been received as a political move, the former has been brought into criticism by NC opponents of gay marriage, who aren’t convinced that he would be able to successfully fight challenges to the ban in court, one of which names AG Cooper as a defendant.
Reisinger had announced his plan to accept the licenses of couples seeking to marry on Monday, and specified that he needed the legal clarification of AG Cooper on how to proceed.
“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 told AP.
“It reached a point where if we can legally grant marriage licenses to gay people, we would like to do that”.
A spokesperson for Roy Cooper, in harmony with his previous public committal to upholding the law, stated “ These marriage licenses cannot be issued”.
The biggest legal hurdle for activist groups like The Campaign For Southern Equality, who seek to get same-sex couples legally married in NC via their “We Do” initiative, is North Carolina Amendment 1. NC Amendment 1 bans same-sex marriage in the state as well as some other civil benefits. It passed via statewide ballot measure in May of last year with %67 of voters supported the amendment. Among its opponents were AG Cooper.
Furthermore, Drew Reisinger told AP that the law should be considered unconstitutional under the 5th amendment, especially following the Supreme Court’s historic DOMA ruling last summer. However, while he is accepting licenses currently, it would seem mostly as a move to help get the laws changed rather than subvert his superiors or the constitution.
“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.
The North Carolina governor cited costs of litigation, noting that his state is also the defendant in a lawsuit filed against him by the Dept. of Justice on similar grounds.September 19, 2016
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