This morning, Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger became the first in the South to accept same-sex marriage licenses, as 10 couples requested them as part of an effort organized by the Campaign for Southern Equality.
About 80 people turned out for the event, holding “We Do” signs. This is not the first time the group has come to Reisinger’s office requesting marriage licenses: the first couple, Brenda Clark and Carol McCrory, had unsuccessfully tried to register for a marriage license four times before as part of CSE protests. Since 2011, the Asheville-based LGBT rights organization has organized a series of protests across the Southeast, seeking the overturn of all bans on same-sex marriage.
This time, however, instead of regretfully refusing the application Reisinger’s on record supporting same-sex marriage rights as he had during previous protests, he accepted the documents, just asking them to verify that the information on the form was correct.
However, he stopped short of signing and issuing the marriage licenses, saying that while he believes the state ban on same-sex marriage is in conflict with the U.S. Constitution, he will formally request that Attorney General Roy Cooper allow the marriages to proceed.
“It seems that y’all qualify for every reason under the law except your sexual orientation,” Reisinger said. “I took an oath to uphold North Carolina’s constitution, I also took an oath to uphold the United States Constitution, which demands equal rights for all people. My hope is that he [Cooper] will allow me permission to grant you this license. For now we’ll hold onto this license until we can get the attorney general’s approval.”
I’ve been reporting and ranting for some time about politics in my state, but once again I find myself proud to live in the most liberal town in North Carolina, and arguably the whole south. The right to marry is not a question of morality or religion, but a matter of equality.
In other specifically local news, the Daily Show will shine a spotlight on Asheville in an upcoming show this month in a segment on NC’s latest voter restrictions law. I can only imagine what weirdness they found here. The other day, my family and I went downtown to meet friends. We found ourselves in the middle of a gay pride festival, with drag queens and leather-bound individuals strolling about. We sat outdoors at a local tavern and listened to the music and people-watched. The fact that my kids were bored says a lot about the fact that weird is normal in my town. I just love it.
Recently NC made national headlines (again) as the first and only state to deny WIC benefits to economically disadvantaged mothers and children who showed up for vouchers to buy nutritious food and formula. DHHS cited insufficient funds to cover the vouchers because of the federal government shutdown, although the USDA had emergency funds available for all states to cover shortfalls. After a couple of days of media onslaught, the state “found” the money to resume operations. I sense more to the story…