A challenge to marriage law

by Eric Ginsburg

Two local same-sex couples attempted to obtain marriage licenses at the Guilford County Register of Deeds office on Monday as part of a statewide pushback against Amendment One, but were denied as others have been in counties across the state including Forsyth and Durham. Jeff Thigpen, the register of deeds, personally supports marriage equality and prayed with the couples and about 30 friends and supporters outside of his office before the couples came inside. Near tears as he turned down Cheryl and Tracey Bridges and then Shela Williams and Deborah Wade, Thigpen offered his measured support.

“I want you to know that I’m truly sorry that I have to do this today,” he said, adding that he looks forward to the laws changing, saying he would “truly be honored” to grant this license in the future.

In a prepared statement, Thigpen applauded the two couples for “having the courage and commitment to stand up for their families” but added that the state laws banning gay marriage is currently being litigated in federal court in Greensboro and that it would be “irresponsible” for him to act before the court’s ruling.

The action was part of the Campaign for Southern Equality’s “We Do” effort to try and challenge discriminatory marriage laws in North Carolina, similar to other efforts that have found some success in other states.

NC Rep. Marcus Brandon (D-Guilford), above left, joined the two couples and their supporters in their attempt to obtain marriage licenses. Above center, Thigpen participated in a prayer circle.