On Oct. 15, Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger became the first in the South to accept same-sex marriage licenses, as 10 couples requested them as part of an effort organized by the Campaign for Southern Equality.
In an online article that day, Xpress Senior Reporter David Forbes noted that, since 2011, the Asheville-based LGBT-rights organization has organized a series of protests across the Southeast, seeking the overturn of all bans on same-sex marriage.
This time, however, instead of refusing the applications as he had during previous protests, Reisinger accepted the documents, asking applicants to verify that the information on the form was correct.
However, he stopped short of signing and issuing the marriage licenses, saying that while he believes the state ban on same-sex marriage conflicts with the U.S. Constitution, he will formally request that N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper allow the marriages to proceed.
Just a day earlier, Cooper announced his personal support for equal marriage rights but said that he's still committed to defending a state ban in court as part of his official duties. His office issued a statement soon after Reisinger's action, stating that issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in North Carolina violates the state constitution.
The news set off a torrent of media attention and online commentary. Here's a sampling of what some of you had to say:
Thank you, this brings tears of joy to my eyes. THANK YOU sir for standing on the right side of history. You are a true hero to me and many many others. — Jason Doherty
Wonderful news, and good work, Drew! – kimboronni
Via the Mountain Xpress Facebook page
Half a step forward but heading in the right direction. — Danalee Cook Pipes
He's playing a bit of political theatrics here …. he is accepting the applications, but not signing them, as [North Carolina] law is clearly opposed to same-sex marriage. The man is an elected official in a liberal district — he'll get votes from this, but nothing else changes. — Loyd Mehaffey
I read a comment by someone that as an elected official in a liberal district "he'll get votes for this" — maybe or maybe not — but this is about Drew acting as a public servant according to his conscience to treat his constituents fairly. The state will have to make the ultimate decision, but this is an important act of conscience. We all should be so brave as to break "the rules" when they conflict with what we know is right. — Sasha Mitchell
WAIT A MINUTE!!! Healthcare for everyone AND marriage equality!!! When will the Tea Party be leaving for another planet? — Katherine Helms Cummings
Via the Asheville Citizen-Times Facebook page:
Finally, a news story that North Carolina can be proud of is picked up nationally. Beats voter suppression, defunding Medicaid and "Architect of the Shutdown." Leave it to one of four progressive areas left in the state. Way to go Drew. — Gary James
It’s in the Bible … It’s wrong. This country used to have some morals and acted like it. Now it seems that this " whatever" attitude is bringing this city and country down around us. Of course, the folks who want to be with the same sex aren’t bad people, but it’s against what this country was founded on and against God’s teachings. … I hope and pray there are still some God fearing people in Asheville that agree — Tony Jones
Never mind this employee is in violation of the North Carolina Constitution. My thoughts: These permits are invalid and against the law. Register of Deeds Reisinger should be terminated for violating NC law. — Jon Franklin