It wasn't a yes. But for what may be the first time in the American South, a same-sex couple applied for a marriage license and at least did not get told no.
Today in Buncombe County, North Carolina, Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger accepted the marriage applications for 10 same-sex couples, some of whom have been asking him for a license for years. Reisinger told the couples he would take their applications and ask the North Carolina attorney general for an opinion on whether he should grant them a license. From the Asheville Citizen-Times:
“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.”
Yesterday, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said that he personally supports marriage quality, and that he will continue to defend the state's ban on it from challenges now moving through the courts. Cooper's office says he will tell Buncombe County not to grant licenses to same-sex couples.
The couples at the Buncombe County clerk's office today were part of an ongoing effort by the Campaign for Southern Equality to find a clerk willing to marry them, the way Montgomery County Registrar Bruce Hanes married couples in Pennsylvania. Reisinger stopped short of that today, but told them:
Thank y'all for your courage.
It's worth noting that Buncombe County is home to the blue dot of Asheville and to Representative Mark Meadows, the Tea Party Republican who campaigned as a birther (video) and then crafted the House Republican strategy for shutting down the government. Meadows' district got redrawn for the 2012 election as the reddest in the state, with much of Asheville removed. Even so, the blue dots of Buncombe County continue on.