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Same-sex marriage opposed

GATESVILLE – County officials here are battling back in the wake of an October decision to legalize same-sex marriage in North Carolina.

By a unanimous vote, members of the Gates County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution in opposition to a ruling by U.S. District Judge O. Max Cogburn, Jr. that legalized gay marriage in the Tar Heel State.

Before taking the vote, the county commissioners debated the issue.

“Has this come before us because there were some magistrates not too far away from Gates County who refused to marry same-sex couples,” asked Commission Vice Chairman Jack Owens.

“I’m not sure of the background (of this resolution) but I do know that it did not come from the Register of Deeds,” said County Manager Natalie Rountree.

Commissioner Henry Jordan added, “As past chairman, I was made aware of this, considering how it became legal in our state (for same-sex couples to marry). I felt this should be presented to our board.”

Jordan went on to brief his colleagues of the history behind this issue, saying that the citizens of North Carolina voted over two years ago in favor of a constitution amendment that defines marriage being between one man and one woman.

“We now have a judge say what the citizens of this state favored is unconstitutional,” Jordan remarked. “That’s his opinion. I felt we should address this. I’m in favor of the resolution, which opposes the judge’s decision. Other counties are supporting this resolution. I’m in favor of Gates County supporting this.”

Jordan put his support in the form of a motion to approve the resolution, which passed by a 5-0 vote.

When the amendment passed two years ago it made North Carolina the final state in the South to pass an amendment banning gay marriage, and the 29th state overall. Ten states have statutes defining marriage as between a man and a woman as the only valid “domestic legal union” in the state and denying recognition to any similar legal status, including civil unions.

Since the ruling, some couples say they’re rushing to marry out of concern that future rulings could go against them; others are merely pouncing on an opportunity they had long awaited.

The first same-sex license in the region was issued in Bertie County less than one week after the judge’s ruling.  Register of Deeds Annie Wilson said it was a female couple, but would not reveal more.

“Our office is just following protocol,” Wilson said in a telephone interview.  We are going about business as usual.”

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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