By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
April 23, 2014
Homosexual activists will have their eyes on the Orange County Register of Deeds Democratic primary May 6, as one of three candidates has promised to take the law into his own hands by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The winner of the three-way race — which includes incumbent Deborah Brooks and challenger Sara Stephens, both of whom say they will uphold the current law, and Mark Chilton, who vows to defy it — will not face opposition in November since no Republicans filed for the post.
“No doubt, some same-sex marriage promoters are beyond thrilled with the prospect of having a Register of Deeds who will pull such a stunt,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “But as we’ve mentioned before, renegade registers who issue marriage licenses improperly will just create a legal quagmire detrimental to folks on both sides of the issue.”
He said Chilton, who is the former mayor of Carrboro, should run for the state’s Legislature if he wants a role in making or changing North Carolina law, rather than seeking the post of Register of Deeds. Chilton was passed over as an appointed replacement for retiring Sen. Ellie Kinnaird (D-Orange), though he had tossed his hat in the ring.
Laura Riddick, five-term register of deeds for Wake County, shared a similar opinion about the role of registers.
“We are administrators, not legislators or judges — a crucial distinction,” said Riddick. She said the issue of same-sex marriage threatens to “drag North Carolina’s 100 registers of deeds into territory where we don’t belong: making public policy.”
Chilton says his willingness to issue marriage licenses to same-sex pairs is based on what he sees as a conflict between the constitutions of the United States and North Carolina. Due to recent rulings on the federal level, he believes the Tar Heel state’s May 2012 Marriage Protection Amendment is unconstitutional, and he’s not willing to wait for a judge’s ruling or a legislative amendment to enforce his interpretation.
But Charles Szypszak with the UNC School of Government says that although the Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last summer, the United States vs. Windsor ruling has not negated existing state laws and in truth, “is not all that clear.”
“This candidate is making a supposition that assumes what the Supreme Court would do,” he warned during a recent interview with the Raleigh News & Observer.
Active with the so-called “Moral Monday” rallies led by the Rev. William Barber, Chilton was arrested and charged with second-degree trespass, failure to disperse and violation of building rules in June during a protest at the N.C. General Assembly.
Equality North Carolina and the Campaign for Southern Equality have lauded Chilton for his plan, as the latter is constantly in search of a register of deeds willing to accommodate its “We Do” campaign in which gay couples show up at local Register of Deeds offices demanding licenses to marry.
Dr. Creech commended Chilton only for his honesty in announcing his intent to use the office of Register of Deeds for homosexual activism, but said voters should be aware that his opponents plan to uphold the law of the land regardless of their personal beliefs.
“It’s one thing to protest laws and work to change them, but quite another to try to vault yourself into a position of power with plans to use the post to flout the law,” he said.
Chilton has said that if elected, only a court order would make him stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Such behavior could lead to his being charged with a misdemeanor and removed from office.