News

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:

Wake Register of Deeds Laura Riddick

Wake Register of Deeds Laura Riddick

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.

News

Busy, busy day in state courts today. Here’s a quick recap:

No guns at the state fair. Wake County Superior Court Donald Stephens upheld the determination of Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler banning handguns from the state fair.

Court orders opening of Appalachian State polling place.  As reported here, Judge Stephens also ordered state election officials to reconfigure Watauga County’s early voting plan to include at least one voting center at Appalachian State University for later this month.

City of Charlotte retains control of the airport. Superior Court Judge Robert Ervin ruled that the city — not a GOP-created 13-member commission — will run Charlotte Douglas International Airport unless and until the commission  gets an operating permit from the Federal Aviation Administration or otherwise gets permission from the agency to use the city’s operating certificate.

 

News

From Rockingham County to New Hanover, from Mecklenburg County to Jackson, Register of Deeds offices across North Carolina are issuing their first same-sex marriage licenses this morning.

QNotes reports that as of this morning, all counties are issuing same-sex marriage licenses:

As of Monday morning, all 100 counties in North Carolina were issuing licenses to same-sex couples. Over the weekend, Iredell County Register of Deeds Matt McCall had said he might not issue the licenses, requesting special notice from North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper or other state officials.

The notice came late Sunday evening in an email to all 100 county registers of deeds from officials at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Service.

[...]

“I will be issuing marriage licenses to all applicants,” McCall said after receiving the health department email. “This is the confirmation I’ve been waiting for.”

More on Qnotes

Equality NC has been busy catching up with many couples at the courthouses, taking photos and celebrating. Check out some of their intagram photos below or follow them here.

Equality NC has also compiled some helpful information for those LGBTQ couples looking to get married.

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Legal heroes of winning UCC lawsuit stand with newly married couples and @equalitync staff on #DayOneNC #CLT

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Fred and James getting married in Cumberland County!!!! #DayOneNC

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#DayOneNC #MarriageEquality #Raleigh Gabriella and Shawn looking beautiful while getting married.

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#DayOneNC #MarriageEquality #Raleigh ACLU wedding favors.

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#DayOneNC #MarriageEquality #Raleigh People in the park getting an officiated marriage ceremony with John from UCC.

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News

An investigation by the Wisconsin State Journal has found that Wisconsin’s taxpayers have lost $139 million dollars over the past ten years to private schools that have received funds from the state’s voucher program but were ultimately excluded from participating, thanks to their failure to meet standards relating to finances, accreditation, student safety and auditing.

From the State Journal:

More than two-thirds of the 50 schools terminated from the state’s voucher system since 2004 — all in Milwaukee — had stayed open for five years or less, according to the data provided by the state Department of Public Instruction.

Northside High School, for example, received $1.7 million in state vouchers for low-income students attending the private school before being terminated from the program in its first year in 2006 for failing to provide an adequate curriculum.

Recouping money sent to shuttered schools isn’t a feasible option, since the money is gone, Bender and Olsen said. [Bender is president of School Choice Wisconsin and Olsen (R-Ripon) is the Senate Education Committee Chairman]

Unlike North Carolina’s school voucher program, which is currently in the infancy stage and may or may not survive a court battle in which it has already been declared unconstitutional by a Superior Court judge, Wisconsin’s voucher program has a (relatively) robust set of accountability standards.

To participate in Wisconsin’s school voucher program, schools must do the following, according to the State Journal:

Currently, schools wishing to participate in the program must meet requirements for the training of their staff, obtain academic accreditation, present a complete budget and submit information to DPI about their governing body or policies and contract with a third-party service to handle payroll taxes.

Private schools participating in North Carolina’s voucher program are not required to do any of the things that Wisconsin schools must demonstrate.

Instead,the North Carolina’s private schools are free to hire untrained people to teach, are not required to be accredited or meet any curricular requirements and do not have to share details of their budget or governing body with the state or public. Among the very few requirements they must meet include administering a standardized test annually, complying with health and safety standards and conducting a criminal background check for only the head of the school.

While the courts decide if our state’s voucher program should survive, North Carolina has already disbursed more than a million dollars in taxpayer-funded vouchers to private schools across the state — including $90,300 to Greensboro Islamic Academy, which an N.C. Policy Watch report found to be experiencing significant financial troubles just last year.

Read the full story on Wisconsin’s voucher program here.

 

Commentary

NCVCEFrom the good people at N.C. Voters for Clean Elections:

Fed up with our broken political system?

Estimates suggest about $4 billion will be spent to sway voters during this year’s election, and about $700 million of that will come from dark money groups that don’t disclose their donors.

Does all this spending have you fed up? Now’s your chance to do something about it.

Come to a public forum featuring FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, State Representative Mary Price “Pricey” Harrison (D – 57th), and Chris Kromm, Director of the Institute for Southern Studies. This is a unique opportunity to speak directly to a representative of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the agency charged with protecting the integrity of our elections.

The event will be held on Thursday, October 16 from 6pm to 7:30pm at North Carolina State University (Winston 029) in Raleigh, North Carolina. [Click here to RSVP.]

Commissioner Weintraub, Representative Harrison, and Mr. Kromm look forward to hearing from you. In particular, how can we promote greater disclosure by dark money groups? How can we ensure that elected officials are responsive to average voters and not just multimillionaires? And how can we combat corruption in government?

For more information contact Melissa Price Kromm at melissa@ncvce.org or call at (919) 371-VOTE