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Gay couples’ requests for marriage licenses denied

SALISBURY — One by one, the couples walked into the County Register of Deeds office Friday, applied for a marriage license and were turned down.

After gathering across the street from 402 N. Main St. about 10:30 a.m., the group of more than 50 moved to the county property. Three couples entered the office. Their purpose: to ask Rowan County to recognize their same-sex relationships as equal.

Tamara Sheffield and Marja Mee, together for 23 years, and Ashley Wilson and Victoria Moore, together for 13 years, applied for marriage licenses.

Amendment One bans same-sex marriage.

Robert Lambrecht and Jon Planovsky, together for 30 years, successfully recorded their California marriage license at the Register of Deeds office, creating a public record of their marriage that is recognized by the federal government and 16 states, but not North Carolina.

Flocked by family and supporters, the three longtime couples, all Salisbury residents, joined the “We Do” campaign.

The movement has spurred same-sex couples to ask for full equality under the law. Rowan County is the 16th Rowan County to see such an action.

Sheffield and Mee were the first through the entrance Friday morning.

“We are here to apply for a marriage license,” Sheffield said.

Harry Welch, the county’s register of deeds, quietly greeted the ladies.

“OK. You both have your social security cards, your driver’s licenses, $60 in cash?” County Register of Deeds Harry Welch said.

After a few moments of processing, Welch leaned close to the couple and spoke in a low voice, “I’m sorry. State law is not going to allow me to grant this. I appreciate you coming in.”

See the full story Saturday.

Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.

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