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North Carolina Couples Document The Emotional Experience Of Being Turned Down For A Marriage License

by Jean Ann Esselink on October 11, 2013

in Discrimination,DOMA,Jean Ann Esselink,News

Post image for North Carolina Couples Document The Emotional Experience Of Being Turned Down For A Marriage License

Have you ever considered what it might be like to apply for a marriage license in a state that does not recognize same-sex couples as eligible to marry?

Three couples visited the Mecklenburg, North Carolina, County Register Wednesday morning, to ask for the same right every heterosexual couple in the state has, the right to be recognized as legally married to the person they love. Creative Loafing reports that Scott Bishop and Ron Sperry, Robin Tanner, Ann Marie Alderman, and Joey Hewell and Scott Lindsley were the principals in a marriage equality protest organized by the Campaign For Southern Equality.

The couples expected they would be denied a license. And yet, there is always that glimmer of hope. It happened in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, a name that will go down in gay history. Could lightning strike twice?

Register of Deeds J. David Granberry, who says he is personally pro-equality, was polite and sympathetic, but he did the expected, he turned the couples away.

“We try to be respectful and let everybody say their piece, and that’s mostly what I think it’s about, to give them an opportunity to be seen and to be heard,” Granberry said afterwards. “And, we can’t particularly do something because right now it’s against the statutes and the constitution for the state, but we can definitely let people express themselves and exercise their free speech and, certainly, they have the right to come down and ask for a marriage license.”

As Granberry wrote on their license application that the law prohibited him from accepting it, Scott Bishop told Ron Sperry:

“I don’t think it’s hard to imagine that every happily married couple remembers the day they walked up to this counter or a counter like this one to apply for their marriage license,” he said. “I bet that they all remember how they felt and the butterflies that they felt at the time. I want you to know that I feel butterflies, too, and not for all the reasons you would think, but because I get to stand here in front of anyone who will listen and tell them that I want to be with you for the rest of my life. I love you very much.”

charlotteCharlotte City Councilman John Autry accompanied the couples in a show of support. He told reporters he has a daughter who, alongside her partner, fought against California’s Prop 8 for years.

About a dozen members of the press covered the event, which, after all, is designed to draw public attention to the real live human beings hurt by the state’s DOMA law. It doesn’t get more human than Joey Hewell and Scott Lindsley in the photo above, as they clung to each other and cried after being turned away. I can only imagine the emotion of that experience.

TwitterAfter the couples were refused, the councilman cautioned about blaming the clerk:

“When someone has a livelihood they’re dependent on … there’s no telling what the ramifications might be,” of granting a license to same-sex couples, Autry said, but he had a harsher critique of the law that kept Granberry from processing the couples’ applications. “This speaks to the duplicity that we’re faced with in North Carolina: Come to North Carolina, fulfill your dreams here, have a family — unless.”

“We must be persistent, consistent and concise with our message, and change will come,” Autry said.

You can watch the video of the couples applying for their marriage applications below:

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Photo of application: Chris Miller WBT Radio, Twitter

Photo of couple ebracing: Campaign For Southern Equality

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{ 1 comment }

Robroberts2013 October 13, 2013 at 8:17 pm

This story is so sad. To diminish anybody's love like this is a crime against humanity– and the universe itself. I dare any bigot to even TRY and explain why this sensless act of state sponsored cruelty could hurt anyone.

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