It was just last year that the people of North Carolina voted discrimination into their state Constitution, by passing an amendment which stated that same-sex marriages, and civil unions, are banned, and that North Carolina must only recognize marriage between a man and a woman; the only valid "domestic legal union" in the state.
It looked like it was done, but we have been seeing challenges to that marriage ban in recent weeks, and lawsuits filed that seek to overturn the ban, and just this week, in response the lawsuits, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced that, while he must defend the law in court, he is in favor of marriage equality.
Roy Cooper has a history of supporting marriage equality, while not saying so much about it. When the constitutional ban was proposed in 2012, he opposed it, but said his opposition was mostly about the lack of clarity in its language; he never publicly addressed his own views on the issue, until this week, when he was asked whether he’d like to see the amendment repealed or a law passed to sanction same-sex marriage:
“I support marriage equality.”—Roy Cooper
And now,in Asheville, the Buncombe County Register of Deeds, Drew Reisinger, has announced that he will begin accepting marriage license applications from same-sex couples this morning, and will seek Cooper's official opinion.
While Reisinger will accept the applications, he will not sign them until he hears from the Attorney General because he says he needs Cooper’s “clarification on the laws of the state that seem to contradict the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.”
“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. I have concerns about whether we are violating people’s civil rights based on this summer’s Supreme Court decision.”— Drew Reisinger
It might not seem like much, you know, a marriage license issued without a signature is really worthless, but it forces the state, and the Attorney General to do something, to say something, to act. And act they did: the Attorney General’s office issued a brief statement last night that points out that the state constitution prohibits anyone from issuing licenses to same sex couples. But that won’t stop at least six same-sew couples from heading into Asheville, to Drew Reisinger’s office, and asking for marriage licenses this morning.
Here’s hoping that they get them; even unsigned, it’s a step in the right direction for a state that just last year slammed the door in the face of same-sex couples and the fight for equality.