NC county challenges state law by accepting same sex marriage application

A county official in western North Carolina accepted a same sex marriage application on Tuesday, setting up a showdown between the county and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper (D), who intends to defend the state's constitutional ban on marriage equality.

Lesbian couple Brenda Clark and Carol McCrory, who have been together 25 years, praised Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger after he accepted the application, according to The Associated Press.

"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 in a statement obtained by the Asheville Citizen-Times. "I have concerns about whether we are violating people’s civil rights based on this summer’s Supreme Court decision."

Reisinger planned to accept applications from at least six same sex couples, but he said he would withhold his signature pending approval from Cooper.

Cooper, who is a Democrat and supports marriage equality, has said that he must enforce the ban on same sex marriage that voters enshrined in the state's constitution.

"The State Constitution says that these marriage licenses cannot be issued, and this is the law unless the Constitution is changed or the court says otherwise," Cooper spokesperson Noelle Talley pointed out. "This very issue is the subject of pending litigation against the State of North Carolina."

Tuesday marks the first time that same sex couples have sought marriage licenses in North Carolina since the Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that the federal ban on equal marriage rights was unconstitutional.

Republican Gov. Pay McCrory's administration had expressed concern about Cooper's role in defending the state's constitutional ban due to his support for marriage equality.

Watch this video from Asheville Citizen-Times, broadcast Oct. 14, 2013.