On the first full-day of marriage equality in North Carolina, the Wake County Register of Deeds issued 62 marriage licenses in all – 37 to same sex couples, 25 to opposite sex couples.
Laura Riddick, who kept the Register of Deeds office open until after 9 p.m. Friday evening issuing marriage licenses after U.S. District Court Judge Max Cogburn Jr. declared North Carolina’s ban on gay marriages unconstitutional, also issued a statement Monday afternoon to those who criticized her actions:
Opponents of same-gender marriage who are unhappy that my office issued marriage licenses in the Wake County Registry after normal business hours Friday in the wake of a historic federal court ruling are either unaware of the full facts, mean-spirited, or both.
I have not advocated for or against same-gender marriage. That is not the proper role of North Carolina’s Registers of Deeds. As I have said many times, we are administrators, not lawmakers or judges.
The touchstones of my work are delivering excellent customer service and following the law at all times. For two years, some proponents of same-gender marriage faulted me for following the
law. Now that the law has changed, some opponents of same-gender marriage are faulting me
for following the law.
Throughout, my position has not changed: Our office follows the law, and we treat all customers
with respect, courtesy, and dignity.
Unlike all but a handful of other Registers of Deeds across North Carolina, I was an involuntary
defendant in the clergy’s federal lawsuit filed in Charlotte. That case, like the two different ones
in Greensboro, was in flux Friday afternoon.
After an emergency conference call with all the parties to the Charlotte case, and with orders also
pending from the judge in the Greensboro cases, I announced that I would close our office at
5:30 unless we received a court order before then. I do not control the actions or the timetables
of federal judges.
At 5:28 p.m., just before we were to close, we received the first of two unexpected orders from
Judge Cogburn in the case in which I was a party. His second order, four minutes later, struck
down the state’s ban on same-gender marriage.
My office was still open; we had not yet closed. More than 100 same-sex marriage applicants of
all ages, and their friends and family members, had camped for two days outside my office door,
expecting a decision by either of the federal judges.
Once the decisive court order came, I could not in good conscience kick those people out and tell
them to come back Monday. I don’t think anyone with a heart would have.
Read Riddick’s full statement here.