A gay couple's lawsuit against Durham County, N.C., for denying them a marriage license was dismissed Monday by a district court judge. Judge Craig Brown agreed with the county attorney, saying the case involved constitutional questions that more properly belong in superior court, where judges have greater authority than in district court. "Judges don't make the law," Brown said. "The legislature makes law, and judges interpret it."
Lawyer Cheri Patrick, representing marriage-license applicants Richard Mullinax and Perry Pike, said she would refile the case in superior court. Patrick contends that her clients should receive a license because the guidelines are not gender-specific. Mullinax and Pike filed their lawsuit in late March after Durham County register of deeds Willie Covington rejected their marriage license application. Durham County attorney Chuck Kitchen then filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, saying the men should have filed it in superior court because they were attempting to force a public official to act. Kitchen argued that while district court has jurisdiction over marital issues such as annulments, divorce, child support, and child custody, district court judges are not empowered to issue injunctions. An injunction is the legal tool that Mullinax and Pike need in their effort to get a marriage license. Patrick then argued unsuccessfully that superior court was "not the only forum."