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Marriage Equality Comes to North Carolina

Marriage Equality Comes to North Carolina

By Sara Owen, Managing Editor Photo Courtesy of Robin Taillon

When UNCP student Charlie Jackson married Kit Heeley in a wedding ceremony in Maryland in May, their marriage was not recognized in North Carolina.

On Oct. 10, a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and woman was overturned, and same sex couples were given the right to marry in North Carolina. The amendment was known as Amendment One.

Jackson, who is currently studying abroad in the U.K., said he and Heeley have been “eagerly praying and hoping for this day.”

“With our marriage recognized, we no longer feel like second class citizens in the place we call home,” Jackson said.

According to the North Carolina Board of Elections, Amendment One had been passed with 61.04 percent approval from the participating voters. There was a 34.4 percent voter turn out.

Same sex couples began marrying as soon as they were able to on the evening of Oct. 10.

On Oct. 16, Rockingham County Magistrate John Kallam Jr. resigned, because he said  marrying a same-sex couple violated his religious beliefs.

According to WECT 6, Kallam sent a letter to Chief District Court Judge Fred Wilkins saying when he took his oath of office he didn’t take it with the understanding that he would be required to marry same-sex couples.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a similar marriage ban in Virginia on July 28. The decision became final on Oct. 6, and some thought the decision would bring marriage equality to North Carolina as well.

“When I saw the news I can’t even explain the joy that I felt. There are many more states and couples that still have a ways to go, but I am happy about this decision, and I plan to continue to move forward with my support of equality,” said Jasmine Young, former president of UNCP’s Gay Students and Allies club.

North Carolina is a part of the 4th circuit along with South Carolina, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia. Maryland was the first state in the 4th circuit to legalize same-sex marriage. As of Oct. 24, South Carolina is the only one that has not legalized it.

As of Oct. 25, 32 out of 50 states in the United States allow same sex marriage. A few other states, such as Missouri, recognize same sex marriages performed in other states.

Photo courtesy of Robin Taillon. UNCP student Charlie Jackson, right, weds Kit Heeley in May in Maryland. Their marriage is now recognized in North Carolina.