It didn’t take long for wedding bells to ring for some Tar Heel same-sex couples after a western North Carolina judge issued his order striking down the state’s anti-LGBT constitutional amendment on Friday afternoon.
In Raleigh, Greensboro and Asheville, local registers of deeds offices stayed open late, allowing dozens of couples to receive marriage licenses. Some opted to get married right on the spot.
Amy Cantrell, 42, and Lauren White, 29, were the first same-sex couple to receive their license in Asheville. Buncombe County Register Drew Reisinger helped them complete their marriage license. Immediately afterwards, Cantrell, White and their two children stepped outside the office and were the couple of six years was wed by the Rev. Lisa Bovee-Kemper.
“We’ve been waiting for this day for years,” Cantrell told the Associated Press.
In Raleigh, the Wake County Register of Deeds office reopened following news of the marriage ruling. There, Wake County Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Biggs, 35, and his partner Chris Creech, 46 and also a sheriff’s department employee, were first in line.
“Even before this I was happy, but I think now that it’s on paper and it’s legal — it’s a commitment between two people,” Biggs told the AP.
In Greensboro, Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen also reopened his office.
“We had a federal judicial order of the likes that hasn’t come down in a generation and we had a lot of people who wanted to come in and get a license to get married and spend the rest of their lives with someone that they love,” Thigpen told Greensboro’s WFMY.
Thigpen added: “We needed to be here and we needed to serve them and as you can tell, the energy and the emotion here is electric.”
And, serve Thigpen did — dozens of couples received licenses and wed in Greensboro. The first was Brad Newton and Frank Brooks of Colfax. The two had waited at the registers of deeds office since Thursday.
Also married in Greensboro was statewide LGBT movement leader Chris Sgro and his partner Ryan Butler. Sgro, the executive director of Equality North Carolina, was joined by his mother and other family members at the register’s office.