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Couples Seek Marriage Recognition in North Carolina

By Trudy Ring

North Carolina same-sex couples who were legally married elsewhere are taking a stand across the state this week by registering their marriage licenses with county officials.

The act doesn’t make their marriages recognized in North Carolina, but it does make a symbolic point against the state constitutional amendment banning such unions.

The effort represents an expansion of the Campaign for Southern Equality’s We Do campaign. Also as part of We Do, unmarried same-sex couples in North Carolina and other southern states are applying for marriage licenses.

The Campaign for Southern Equality encouraged married couples registering their licenses to do so yesterday if possible, but urged those who couldn’t make it then to carry out the action whenever possible.

In Asheville Tuesday morning, Lisa and Cindy Bovee-Kemper were the first couple to register their license, the Associated Press reports. The women were married in New York two years ago.

“This was important because we are legal strangers in North Carolina,” said Lisa, an assistant pastor. “Even though North Carolina doesn’t recognize our marriage, there’s something important about existing in public records.”

Asheville is in Buncombe County, where Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger last week became the first county official in North Carolina to accept marriage license applications from same-sex couples. Reisinger says he believes the state’s ban is unconstitutional, but state officials say he can’t issue the licenses.

Right-wingers, not surprisingly, have reacted unfavorably to the marriage equality efforts. The mayor of West Union, N.C., last week posted inflammatory and homophobic comments on Facebook about Reisinger’s decision, saying, “What’s it gonna take to get these queers to realize they don’t need a piece of paper. God will not bless their union because he plainly speaks against queers in the Bible.” This week, Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, released a statement calling the We Do campaign “guerrilla warfare.”

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