Two years to the day since the passage of North Carolina’s constitutional ban against same-sex marriage, local same-sex couples will apply for marriage licenses this Thursday at the Wake County Register of Deeds Office. They will be joined by legally-married same-sex couples willing to pay $26 to record their out-of-state marriage licenses in the county – creating a local public record of their legal marriage, which is currently recognized by the federal government but not the state of North Carolina.
Thursday’s action in Wake County marks the 20th North Carolina county in which LGBT couples have taken steps through the WE DO Campaign to call for full marriage equality under the law. Here’s more from the Campaign for Southern Equality:
‘Trudy and Justine Price-O’Neil of Wake County are among the couples that will record their Massachusetts marriage license at the Register of Deeds office. Together for a decade, they are mothers to a two-year-old and are both teachers. Rev. Doug Long, the couple’s pastor at Umstead Park United Church of Christ, who will stand in support of them as they record their license. Trudy Price O’Neil will be honored as Enloe High School Teacher of the Year at a ceremony on Thursday evening.
“While the federal government recognizes our marriage, it’s important to us that our home state of North Carolina does too,” says Justine Price-O’Neil. “This matters for reasons like state taxes and insurance policies, but also for our little girl to have two legal parents, and so she can know without a doubt that her family is just as valid and important as everyone else’s.”
“Every day that Amendment One remains on the books it hurts families like Trudy, Justine and their daughter. It also sends a message to LGBT youth in our state that they are less than. This law is being challenged in the courts, and these brave couples are standing up today because they have a fundamental right to marry and to have their marriage recognized in their home state,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, which coordinates the WE DO Campaign. “We’re also standing up to ensure that LGBT youth across our state hear a message that they are deserving of equality in every sphere of life.”
Last summer the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Windsor that the federal government must recognize marriages of same-sex couples. On April 28, a a new federal legal challenge to Amendment One, General Synod of the United Church of Christ vs. Cooper, was filed in North Carolina’s Western District on behalf of clergy from across faith traditions including Rev. Nancy Petty, same-sex couples and the United Church of Christ. The case challenges the constitutionality of marriage laws in North Carolina – including Amendment One – that ban marriage between same-sex couples and make it illegal for clergy to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples within their congregations. In recent months, federal courts in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio, Texas, Kentucky have found bans on state marriage to be unconstitutional.
Public opinion in North Carolina is no less dynamic than the national legal climate. Recent polling shows that 62 percent of voters under the age of 30 in North Carolina support the freedom to marry. In addition, just 34 percent of all North Carolina voters now believe there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship.’
The Campaign for Southern Equality will also be hosting a discussion about the religious freedom legal challenge to Amendment One on Wednesday evening at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh. Click here to learn more.