CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Three local same-sex couples are scheduled to walk into the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds on Wednesday and ask that their relationships be as equally and as legally recognized as their straight peers.
The protest event is organized by the Asheville-based Campaign for Southern Equality. The group has held direct actions and sit-ins across the South. This fall, they are focusing on their home state and have made several stops already in Madison County, Greensboro, Hendersonville and Winston-Salem.
The organization is seeking a county official who will defy the state’s anti-LGBT marriage ban based on conscience. They’ve yet to find one, though in September Guilford Country Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen participated in a prayer of reconciliation with the group and spoke publicly about his personal support for marriage equality.
Scott Bishop and Ron Sperry
Scott and Ron have been committed for 16-and-a-half years. On Wednesday, they’ll ask the register of deeds for a marriage license.
“My partner Ron and I have been residents of Mecklenburg County for over 18 years and we consider Charlotte our home,” Scott writes in an open letter on the Campaign for Southern Equality’s blog. “We met here not long after we both moved here independently and have been in a committed relationship for over 16 of those 18 years. I am writing to you today to request that you grant us a marriage license to have our relationship recognized by the state of North Carolina.”
The Rev. Ann Marie Alderman and The Rev. Robin Tanner
Ann Marie and Robin held a religious commitment ceremony here in Charlotte this May. They, too, will ask for a marriage license and seek to have their relationship recognized as a legal marriage in North Carolina.
Scott Lindsley and Joey Hewell
Scott and Joey have been committed for over 10 years. Like Scott and Ron, they’ll ask that their relationship be treated no differently from their straight friends’ relationships.
BONUS: 2004 Marriage Protest
On May 5, 2004, former Metropolitan Community Church of Charlotte Pastor Mick Hinson and partner Gene were among those speaking out against the newly proposed anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. They attempted to file for a marriage license in Mecklenburg County and were denied. “There is not justice in the world regarding [same-sex] relationships — period,” Hinson said at the time. The amendment, originally sponsored by Gaston County state Sen. Jim Forrester and pushed by him each legislation session since 2004, was passed by voters in May 2012. (File photo)
[Ed. Note -- An original version of this article incorrectly stated that the Rev. Ann Marie Alderman and the Rev. Robin Tanner had been married in 2011. We have updated the story with more correct information. We regret the error. (Oct. 8, 2013, 8:07 p.m.)]