North Carolina official to begin accepting marriage applications from same-sex couples despite state ban

Another county official goes rogue in support of marriage equality

Published October 15, 2013 1:36PM (EDT)

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A North Carolina government official is seeking approval to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples in an effort to push marriage equality in his state, though the state Attorney General has already issued a statement indicating that the licenses will not be granted.

As the Citizen-Times reports, Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger announced that he will begin to accept and hold same-sex marriage applications beginning Tuesday in order to push state Attorney General Roy Cooper on the issue.

“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 a statement. “I have concerns about whether we are violating people’s civil rights based on this summer’s Supreme Court decision.”

“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,” he continued.

Cooper's office issued a brief statement in response to Reisinger, noting, "The State Constitution says that these marriage licenses cannot be issued, and this is the law unless the Constitution is changed or the court says otherwise."

Despite the terse statement from the Attorney General's office, Reisinger does, in fact, have a sympathetic audience in Cooper. When asked over the weekend for his personal views on the issue, Cooper said, “I support marriage equality.”

Marriage equality groups in the state have called on Cooper to follow the example set by Pennsylvania state Attorney General Kathleen Kane and refuse to defend Amendment One, the state's gay marriage ban.

“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,” said the Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.

“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.” Beach-Ferrara added.


By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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Gay Marriage Gay Rights Lgbt Rights Lgbtq Rights Marriage Equality Same-sex Marriage