Despite the significant push from cohorts advocating the legitimization of same sex marriage in the state, North Carolina, among the other thirty-one states that currently ban same sex marriage, has fervently kept on pace with its ban on same sex marriage within the recent years. On the other hand, the other thirteen states and the District of Columbia have recognized same sex marriage as legitimate, highlighting the issue of same-sex marriage and its status as an ideological divide among states. On the federal level, the right to same sex marriage has been recognized. According to the Supreme Court, same-sex marriage ought to be given recognition and validity under the law. The United States v. Windsor case, known as the DOMA case, recognized that limiting lawful marriage to heterosexual couples is an unjust exclusion from the normal benefits of citizenship. In the Windsor decision, the Supreme Court described the way in which the U.S. Constitution trumps the North Carolina Constitution under the principle of federal preemption. The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution (Article VI, clause 2) claims that when state law and the Constitution conflict, state law is invalidated. The power of the United States Constitution both grants and restrains; although states have a surmountable amount of authority at their disposal with respect to legislation and policy, states cannot deny the freedoms protected under the Fifth Amendment. Taking the Windsor case into consideration, it is also apparent that same-sex couples in North Carolina, who were legally married in other states, have been a target of discrimination by the hands of their state because North Carolina refuses to acknowledge a status that the federal government recognizes as legitimate.
“We applied for a marriage license in North Carolina because we believe we are entitled to the same benefits and privileges that other citizens enjoy. We believe our family is entitled to the same validity that other families automatically receive. It is as simple as that.” These are the words of Carol McCroy on why she chose to apply for a marriage license in North Carolina.
On October 15, 2013 Brenda and Carol applied for a marriage license in Asheville, NC. They have been together for 25 years and were in the middle of their fourth time applying; every other time they had been rejected. But this time Drew Reisinger (Register of Deeds) accepted the application and sent it to Attorney General Roy Cooper for his final stamp of approval. Given the clarity with which federal law makes its claims regarding the legality of same sex marriage, it is baffling that it was not until late 2013 that Carol and Brenda would share in the historicity of becoming not only the first same-sex couple to get this far in North Carolina, but also the first in the entire South. This is the current state of same-sex marriage issues in NC.
The Moral March is a place for various opinions to be represented and competing voices to be heard. It’s a medium where one’s judgment becomes another’s injustice. The March is a place for change, and an opportunity for one to reevaluate the primordial question of what do they want; what do we need?
I delve into the depths of the March, the very core of the movement. I hear singing in the distance; like a choir of some sorts alluring me to motion closer to it. The voices become louder and louder until I can finally hear the performance in its beautiful entirety.
After speaking to the lovely couple earlier, I was approached by a college student who was also invested in protesting in support of same sex marriage. I decide to confront one of the followers in order to garner a better understanding of what it is they are exactly so up in arms about. Here I meet Brenda and Carol, a same-sex couple of 25 years that is on the hunt for justice.