Friday, May 11, same-sex couples went into the Buncombe County Register of Deeds office to request marriage licenses — knowing they would be denied — as part of the WE DO campaign. Eight people were arrested in the ensuing sit-in.
The protest campaign originated in Asheville last year and has since spread to other cities throughout the Southeast, garnering national and international attention (founder Jasmine Beach-Ferrara was recently interviewed on MSNBC and the BBC). In the wake of Amendment One’s passage, the Campaign for Southern Equality, which organizes the protests, continued its efforts to overturn bans on same-sex marriage.
This time, 20 couples requested marriage licenses. Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger, a supporter of the campaign, denied the requests, citing state law and, post-May 8, the North Carolina Constitution. He expressed his hope that he could one day approve their marriage licenses, and hoped for “leadership at the federal level” to overturn the bans.
After the couples had all been refused, eight people remained, declaring that current federal and state bans on same-sex marriage violate the equal protection. The protesters read from the Declaration of Independence, the preamble to U.S. Constitution, and Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned state bans on interracial marriage, including one in North Carolina’s constitution. They asked Reisinger again to issue the licenses, and he still refused.
The protesters refused to leave, and were arrested by sheriff’s deputies, charged with second-degree trespassing. About 80 supporters welcomed them upon their release.
Xpress photographer Max Cooper captured images of the protest.