Mecklenburg County Issues First Same-Sex Marriage Licenses
The Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds issued its first marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Monday morning. About a dozen couples lined up before the office opened at 8 o'clock. This comes after a federal judge in Asheville ruled on Friday the state's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.
Shortly after 9 o'clock, Glenda Lawson and Julie Treadway walked out of the Mecklenburg County Register of Deed's office with their marriage license in hand. And Jessica Milicevic was waiting for them.
Milicevic: "Glenda, do you take Julie to be your wife? Do you promise to honor her and love her and cherish her, forsaking her above all others and take care of her for the rest of your life?"
Lawson: "'I do'"
Milicevic: "By the power vested in me and the state of North Carolina, I now pronounce you wife and wife … Congratulations!"
Julie is a Charlotte native. She's says it wasn't until recently that she thought she'd be able to get married in Charlotte.
"I can't believe it. I mean it hasn't sunk in yet," Treadway says. "But it's a great day. I've waited all my life for this."
On Friday evening, U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn signed an order saying the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. And that cleared the way for gay couples to get their marriage licenses.
Some licenses were issued Friday evening in Wake and Buncombe counties. In Mecklenburg County, Monday morning was the first opportunity to get licenses.
Terrence Hall and Christopher Decaria were the first in line. They exchanged rings two years ago.
"We saw the news and they said there would be hundreds of people here," Hall says. "So Chris was like, come on. Step it up! Let's get there early. I don't want to be there all day."
Half an hour later, they had their license.
On Monday, 86 marriage licenses were issued. Sixty-two were issued to same gender couples. Thirty-five of those couples got married Monday.
Jessica Milicevic stayed all day to perform weddings. She got ordained online. She says she's here out of a sense of community service.
"I just sort of stood there and there was just a line of people waiting to get married. I married 16 couples today and I don't know if they chose me because I'm emotional, but I couldn't help it," Milicevic says. "We were all crying. All of us. Every single time, too. It wasn't like you cried at the first one, and the rest you didn't. Every single one."
There were plenty of tears and applause and a couple of protestors. One shouted demeaning chants and another quietly held up a sign. Some people yelled back, but mostly they were drowned out by the Charlotte Pride pep band.
Attorney Luke Largess, who represented plaintiffs in challenging the state's ban on gay marriage, said he was proud to be a part of this historic moment.
"It's a great day for the state and I think those who are opposed to this are going to realize very quickly that the sky's not falling and that life will go on," Largess says.