Lesbian Seeking Marriage License Arrested in NC
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) - A lesbian who sought a North Carolina marriage license with her partner and was rejected under a state law banning same-sex marriage was arrested with another person Thursday after they refused to leave a government office where several gay and lesbian couples were turned away.
The civil disobedience followed a day after President Barack Obama publicly endorsed same-sex marriage, and two days after North Carolina voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as solely between a man and a woman.
The protest came amid attempts by a gay rights group, Campaign for Southern Equality, to broaden public support to allow same-sex marriage and more protests are planned in coming days at other county offices in North Carolina that issue marriage licenses
Nine gay and lesbian couples each presented completed forms and identification to a clerk at the local Register of Deeds office in Winston-Salem, but were refused because state law recognizes only heterosexual couples.
"We cannot issue you a marriage license because it is not allowed under North Carolina law," a clerk told Brent Morin, 36, and his partner Gerald Morin, 42, of Winston-Salem.
On Tuesday, North Carolina became the 30th state to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The state already has laws that prohibit gay marriage, but adding the prohibition to the state constitution will make that much harder to change.
"Can you at least acknowledge on here that you’re denying it and the date?" Brent Morin asked, his ring-bearing left hand trembling. The clerk complied. Other clerks smiled sheepishly or shook the hands extended to them by couples they had turned away.
"I just want to point out that we’re married in the District of Columbia, our nation’s capital," Morin said. "Thank you."
"Hopefully, one day you’ll be able to say yes," said a woman who was the first to request a license with her partner. She and most of the other couples declined to give their names. A group spokesman said most couples feared trouble with their employers or other complications.
Mary Jamis, 52, of Mocksville, and a heterosexual friend who joined the protest, Mary Lea Bradford of Winston-Salem, were arrested after they blocked the entrance to the marriage license office and refused to leave more than 30 minutes after closing time.
A county administrator tried to talk the women into leaving and avoiding arrest, but the two insisted they would stay unless Jamis was issued a marriage license for her and her partner, Starr Johnson, 48.