Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger said in a press release this afternoon that he is willing to issue gay marriage licenses, accepting but not signing the licenses and asking Attorney General Roy Cooper to weigh in on the issue. Local residents, as part of a statewide campaign, plan to seek same-sex marriage licenses from Reisinger tomorrow. Efforts by the Campaign for Southern Equality in other North Carolina counties, including Guilford and Forsyth, have been turned down, though Guilford County Register of Deeds expressed his personal support for marriage equality.
Reisinger's move puts Cooper, a Democrat, in an interesting position, particularly because he recently said that he will run for governor in 2016 (in fact, he made the statement in Buncombe County). Below is Reisinger's full press release. The Campaign for Southern Equality released a similar statement minutes later.
"Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger will be the first government official in the South to seek approval to grant same-sex marriage licenses since the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.
Reisinger will accept and hold same-sex marriage applications and push the question of equal marriage rights to the state’s chief legal adviser, Attorney General Roy Cooper.
“I will let each couple know that it is my hope to grant them a license, but I need to seek the North Carolina Attorney General’s approval," Reisinger said. "I have concerns about whether we are violating people's civil rights based on this summer's Supreme Court decision."
The Campaign for Southern Equality notified Reisinger that at least six same-sex couples would request marriage licenses Tuesday. Reisinger will allow the couples to complete and sign their applications. He will accept the applications but withhold his own signature.
“I will then let the Attorney General know that I would like to issue these couples licenses, but that I need his clarification on the laws of the state that seem to contradict the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution,” Reisinger said.
Tuesday will be the first time same-sex couples have requested marriage licenses from Reisinger since the June 26 Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act."