Same-sex marriage licenses handed out for first time in Meck Co

(Mark Davenport | WBTV)
(Mark Davenport | WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - For the first time, same-sex couples received marriage licenses in Mecklenburg County on Monday. Dozens of couples lined up outside the Register of Deeds office waiting to say "I do."

The Register of Deeds office began issuing the marriage licenses at 8 a.m. Some same-sex couples say they are planning to wed outside of the courthouse at 11 a.m.

Of the 86 couples who received a marriage license, 62 were same-gender couples - and 35 tied the knot.

The county issued a statement Friday announcing they would begin issuing the marriage licenses to all couples on Monday. A court ruling overturned North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage that evening.

Mecklenburg County encourages all couples to file their application online before coming to the office to complete the process.

The group Equality NC had officiates on-hand to marry couples at the steps of the office.

"We didn't want to get our license and have some sort of obstacle put in front of us to actually get married," said Scott Lindsley.

Couples and LGBT community members in Charlotte  planned on celebrating the victory at an interfaith service. Several plaintiffs from the United Church of Christ's and other clergy members' suit against the amendment were expected to attend.

The service was held at 7 p.m. Monday at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on the 1900 block of The Plaza.

In the meantime there's definitely a clear divide among churches in Charlotte on the issue.

"They would certainly be welcome to worship here," said Reverend Mark Harris of First Baptist Charlotte.

It's just one reaction to Friday's move by a Federal judge in Asheville who struck down North Carolina's ban on same sex marriage.
But still Harris says his church is not ready to accept gay unions.

"I think that's one of the biggest emotions that people have right now is confusion and hurt and feeling disenfranchised as a citizen."

Harris, who lead the fight two years ago in the movement to define marriage as between a man and a woman says the battle is not over.

"I think people are smart enough to know legal system is full of appeals and the issue could continue."

Churches who oppose same sex marriage say they feel the need to protect themselves from the government. During mass Sunday at the Cathedral of Saint Patrick in Charlotte the priest asked for an hour long prayer for the sanctity of marriage.

But other church leaders and local groups say they're excited the ban was overturned,

"These are rights that are entitled to all people in this country is absolutely amazing and very moving," said Reverend Robin Tanner with Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church.

Tanner was a plaintiff in a federal case challenging the North Carolina ban. She's ready to open her doors to same sex couples who want to set a date. "I will do so joyfully."

Those looking for information on what they will need in order to register to marry can find it at http://equalitync.org/marriage/dayone/.

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