In a historic first for the Campaign for Southern Equality's We Do Campaign, which launched in 2011, the register of deeds in Asheville, North Carolina, accepted marriage license applications from same-sex couples who requested them on Tuesday.
Buncombe County, N.C., Register of Deeds Drew Resigner accepted marriage applications from ten same-sex couples on Tuesday, though he told the couples he can't issue the licenses until he receives permission from the state's attorney general, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times. North Carolina voters amended the state Constitution in 2012 to order that only marriages between one man and one woman be recognized or valid in the state.
"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,” said Reisinger in a statement Monday. "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."
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper issued a statement Monday noting that the state's constitution expressly prohibits any official from issuing a marriage license to a same-sex couple, and citing an ongoing federal challenge to that state law.
"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,” said Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman for Cooper’s office. "This very issue is the subject of pending litigation against the State of North Carolina."
Since 2011, LGBT couples in states across the South have asked their local registrar to recognize their relationships by issuing them marriage licenses as part of the Campaign for Southern Equality's We Do initiative. Up until this week, every couple had been denied.
In 2011, Resigner himself denied marriage licenses to several same-sex couples who applied at the Buncombe County Register of Deeds.
See how things turned out differently this time in the video below.