Despite the existence of a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, a North Carolina register of deeds has decided to accept marriage licence requests but says he will hold the licences pending receipt of legal advice from the state's attorney-general, the Associated Press (AP) reports.
In a video report by the Asheville Citizen-Times, register of deeds Drew Reisinger is seen taking the personal information for a licence requested by lesbian couple Brenda Clark and Carol McCrory, telling them they seem to qualify for a licence "for every reason under the law except your sexual orientation." He says that raises "some real constitutional issues."
Reisinger adds, "I took an oath to uphold the state of North Carolina's constitution, and I also took an oath to uphold the United States' constitution, and the United States' constitution demands equal rights for all people, and so that's what we're going to ask the attorney-general to look over for us."
He says his hope is that Attorney-General Roy Cooper will grant him permission to give the thumbs-up for the licence, which the two women have requested three or four times. Reisinger told AP, however, that if Cooper refuses, he would abide by the decision.
Reisinger told the couple, who have been together for 25 years, that he is proud of them and thanked them for their courage for repeatedly coming in to apply for a licence.
Clark and McCrory also thanked Reisinger for his courage. He has faced some criticism from gay-marriage opponents who say the state's electorate made their wishes clear in 2012 by voting for a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
According to the AP report, Cooper supports same-sex marriage but says he will observe the state's ban.