From the Campaign for Southern Equality:
Asheville, N.C. (August 19, 2013) – On Wednesday, August 21 at 3 p.m. Amanda Hilty and Loraine Allen, residents of Madison County, North Carolina will request a marriage license at the Madison County Register of Deeds’ office. Together for 13 years, Amanda and Loraine are seeking a marriage license because they wish to have their relationship recognized by their community and government. “Our federal government acknowledges same-sex marriage. There is no reason our state should not,” says Loraine, a native of Western North Carolina.
The couple will be joined by friends and clergy, who will lead a public prayer service before the couples enter the Register of Deeds office. If Amanda and Loraine are denied a license, they will ask the Madison County Register of Deeds to sign their marriage license application from Maryland, one of thirteen states where same-sex marriage is legal. As required by Maryland law, this application will then be mailed to the Circuit Clerk’s Office in Howard County, Maryland, where Amanda and Loraine plan to wed next year.
“In thirteen years we’ve been through a lot together and we still want to get married. We shouldn’t have to ask permission for our relationship to be validated or to use the term wife, which carries a clear message about our commitment and love. To be denied this right is an insult to the heart’s capacity to love, which no single person or government should be able to judge,” says Amanda.
Wednesday’s action in Madison County launches a new stage of the WE DO Campaign, an initiative of the Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE) which has involved more than 80 same-sex couples requesting marriage licenses in their hometowns across seven Southern states. All of these couples have been denied to date, with local elected officials citing bans on same-sex marriage that exist in every Southern state as the reason. In this new stage of the campaign, CSE will travel North Carolina, standing with same-sex couples as they ask their local Register of Deeds to issue them a marriage license as an act of conscience.
“Amendment One, which bans same-sex marriage, is immoral and unconstitutional. In our country, there is a long history of citizens and elected officials standing up to discriminatory laws and, in this spirit, we are hopeful that the Madison County Register of Deeds will issue a marriage license to Amanda and Loraine. We also call on elected officials like N.C. State Rep. Michelle Presnell to propose legislation ensuring that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens of our state have equal legal protections in all spheres of life.” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.
Madison County ranks 8th out of North Carolina’s 100 counties in the percentage of same-sex couples per 1,000 households according to 2010 Census data. North Carolina is one of 37 states which ban same-sex marriage. Yet even in states with marriage bans in place, the political landscape is dynamic. Recently, in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Register of Wills Mr. Bruce Hanes started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Montgomery county, despite a state ban. To date, he has issued licenses to more than 100 same-sex couples, citing as grounds his belief that the Pennsylvania state ban is unconstitutional.