Carol Ann and Thomas Person were planning to be married when they went to a Forsyth County magistrate’s office in 1976.

Carol Ann and Thomas Person (Source: N&O/Person family)

Carol Ann and Thomas Person (Source: N&O/Person family)

To their suprise, they was turned away because two magistrates, citing their own religious beliefs, refused to marry an interracial couple.

The couple now lives in Moore County and have been married for 40 years.

Carol Ann wrote about the experience of being turned away by the county magistrates in this poignant editorial published in the News & Observer, to emphasize their opposition to Senate Bill 2, which would allow magistrates to refuse to marry same-sex couples.

“Whether gay or straight, black or white, Jew or Gentile, nobody has a right to tell anyone who they can love or marry,” she wrote.

The N.C. House of Representatives is expected to consider whether to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto later today.

From Person’s column:


I met the love of my life more than 40 years ago in Raleigh. Thomas is a lifelong North Carolinian. I was a recent transplant from Vermont. We are both legally blind, and soon after we met, we moved to Winston-Salem to work for the Industries of the Blind. Our friendship blossomed into love, and in 1976, Thomas proposed. I very happily said yes.

Soon after, we went to our local courthouse to receive a civil marriage license from one of the magistrates there, so we could commit our lives to each through a legal union. I was so excited. People always say your wedding day is supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life, and I was expecting mine to be exactly that.

But when we walked into that government office together, we were told that the magistrate on duty wouldn’t give us a marriage license. I was flabbergasted. We had planned everything, we had all our paperwork and we were legally eligible to get married.

So why wouldn’t he marry us? The reason, it turned out, was because Thomas is African-American, and I am white. The magistrate told us that marrying an interracial couple went against his religious beliefs. Our happy day quickly turned into a nightmare.

I was so surprised that a government official was using his own personal religious beliefs to deny us a civil marriage license that I didn’t know what to say. There was a second magistrate on duty, but he, too, said he wouldn’t marry us, because doing so would violate his religious beliefs. One of them took out a Bible and began to lecture us about their religious views and why Thomas and I should not be together. We eventually went down the street to the local Legal Aid office and returned with a lawyer, but the magistrates still refused. It was so upsetting.

The entire piece, which is well worth reading, can be found here.

Robert PittengerAn editorial in this morning’s Charlotte Observer shines a light on the noxious views of North Carolina congressman Robert Pittenger:

Is it OK for a company to fire someone solely because he is gay?

U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger of Charlotte thinks so. It’s one of “the freedoms we enjoy” as Americans, he says. Private employers should have the freedom to discriminate against employees based on their sexual orientation, Pittenger says, and government shouldn’t take that ability away.

After a town hall meeting in Ballantyne this month, a reporter from the liberal political blog ThinkProgress, Alice Ollstein, asked Pittenger if he supported laws to protect gays in the workplace. Pittenger compared the right to fire gay workers to smoking bans.

“Do you ban smoking or do people have the right to private property? I think people have the right to private property,” Pittenger told Ollstein….

In a statement to the Observer editorial board Tuesday, Pittenger stood by his comments. He emphasized that he does not discriminate in his hiring and firing, but said the question should be left to the free market.”

The editorial rightfully goes on to expose the congressman’s opinion as vacuous hogwash indistinguishable from the hateful attitudes of those who would discriminate against potential employees based on race or religion. The congressman needs to rethink his views on this matter and issue an apology ASAP.


Equality NCAs the Wilmington Star-News reports this morning, protesters led by advocates from Equality NC (that’s the group’s Executive Director, Chris Sgro pictured at left) spoke out yesterday in favor of a law change that would prevent taxpayer-funded school vouchers from going to schools that discriminate against LGBT children and the children of LGBT parents.

“A statewide gay rights group wants the General Assembly to change its new tuition voucher program so schools with policies that exclude gay people won’t receive taxpayer funding.

Members of the gay rights group Equality N.C. spoke out Tuesday against a policy recently adopted by Myrtle Grove Christian School that requires students’ families to promise they won’t support or participate in a gay lifestyle. The faith group N.C. Values Coalition also released a statement Tuesday supporting Myrtle Grove Christian School’s right to set its own admission policies. Read More


You know things have taken a turn for a worse already under conservative control of the UNC system when the pro-discrimination forces on the religious right are happy with one of the first, major, high-profile decisions.

According to NC Values Coalition director Tami Fitzgerald, the Board’s decision to force LGBT kids back into same-sex living arrangements where they can be more easily bullied once again has brought “sanity to the university housing environment.’

Got that? God forbid that some gay 19 year-old boy might be able to room with a straight co-ed! As the WRAL story notes, more than 100 colleges around the country provide for a gender-neutral housing option (an option that former Chancellor Holden Thorp — a person who has actually interacted with a few modern college students — said was vital to protect the safety of some kids).    

But never mind that now; the sex-obesessed religious right (the same troubled group that fought against laws to protect bullied LGBT kids in the K-12 system for years) is still committed to returning North Carolina to the 1950’s — whatever the cost.  


Yield: Love conquers everything; let us too, yield to love

This is the final piece in a series of videos by Mimi Schiffman on North Carolina’s Amendment One:

“You know, everybody says it’s just a word, but there’s more to it. There’s a feeling of belonging,” said Jeff Enochs of Charlotte, N.C. “I wanted my state to recognize that we are going to spend the rest of our lives together.”

Watch Jeff and his partner Brian Helms travel to Washington, D.C., the closest place they can legally marry.

The wedding is set to take place just weeks in advance of North Carolina’s primary, in which voters will decide whether to amend the constitution to read: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”

Production: Mimi Schiffman
Music: Phil Cook & His Feat
Additional Camera: Ben Berry

Mimi Schiffman is a photographer, videographer and multimedia producer pursuing a master’s degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This work is a part of a documentary project she is producing on marriage equality for her thesis. The work is being released in the lead-up to the 2012 North Carolina primaries on May 8, 2012, where voters are asked to decide on a constitutional amendment which could render many established same-gender couples and their families legal strangers in the eyes of the law.

Mimi’s work is being posted on Huffington Post.