NC County Accepts Same-Sex Marriage License Applications
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – For the first time in the history of North Carolina, marriage license applications for same-sex couples are being accepted.
Buncombe County's Register of Deeds, Drew Reisinger, began taking the applications this week, but said he isn't granting any until he receives approval from the state.
He also submitted a request to state Attorney General Roy Cooper for his opinion on the constitutionality of the state's ban on same-sex marriage.
"We are the first ones to get out there and push the envelope and say that we're willing,” Reisinger said. “If the Attorney General gives us permission, it would be my honor to grant same-sex couples marriage licenses."
So far, 20 same-sex couples have applied for marriage licenses in Buncombe County, which has the highest population of gay and lesbian residents in the state.
Reisinger said he believes the state's ban on same-sex marriage violates equal protection rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.
Attorney General Cooper's office has said approving the licenses would be a violation of state law.
Reisinger recalled one couple who applied for a license this week. Together for more than 40 years, they are now seeing each other through a serious illness, and being legally married would offer them protection under the law.
"As the Register of Deeds, who grants marriage licenses to all kinds of people who take marriage much less seriously, I definitely don't think it's right for me to deny that couple a marriage license," he said.
The state Attorney General says North Carolina has to either change its state law, or the current law would have to be challenged in court.