N.C. gay couple temporarily abandon efforts to get marriage license

A gay couple in Durham, N.C., are abandoning their court effort to force Durham County to grant them a marriage license.

Richard Mullinax Jr. and Perry Pike say further litigation would be cost-prohibitive. Their lawsuit against the county seeking the license was dismissed in May by a district court judge, who said the case involved constitutional questions that belonged in a higher court. Mullinax and Pike had indicated they would pursue the matter in superior court but said Wednesday they would drop their legal efforts for now. They did not rule out the possibility of pursuing the matter at a later date. Their lawyer, Cheri Patrick, said she was "deeply saddened" to drop the case but added that she considers the highly publicized lawsuit to have been a success anyway.

"Hearts and minds have opened, and Perry and Richard have moved the conversation on civil marriage forward in North Carolina," she said. "The dialogue has just begun."

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.

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