By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
March 12, 2014
Forget state statutes, and forget the North Carolina Constitution — Mark Chilton, a former Carrboro mayor and now a candidate for Orange County Register of Deeds, says he will gladly sign same-sex marriage licenses if elected.
“‘Amendment One’ is clearly contrary to the United State Constitution,” Chilton wrote in a statement proclaiming his plans to defy the law. “… If I am elected Register of Deeds of Orange County, I will not enforce the federally unconstitutional parts of the North Carolina state statutes and constitutional provisions which purport to prohibit the issuance of same-sex marriage certificates.”
A former member of the pro-homosexual group Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, Chilton is challenging incumbent Deborah B. Brooks and former deputy Register of Deeds Sara Stephens. Because all three are Democrats and no Republicans have filed, whoever wins the May 6 primary will be unopposed in November.
Stephens has not said whether she would defy North Carolina marriage laws, but Brooks obviously understands that her role is to carry out state statutes, not redefine them.
“My stand is that, I do whatever North Carolina law allows me to do,” she told Chapelboro.com.
The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said anyone who refuses to be bound by state law should reexamine his reasons for running for office in the first place.
“Don’t agree with the law? Then work to change it via the Legislature,” he said. “But don’t run for an office when you obviously do not intend to fulfill its duties.”
In a recent column, Laura Riddick, Wake County’s five-term register of deeds, examined the problems created when activists promoting same-sex marriage urge registers to flout the law. (See column here)
“Same-sex marriage remains illegal in North Carolina under our recently amended state constitution and two state statutes …,” she wrote. “Public opinion on same-sex marriage is shifting, and courts, the N.C. General Assembly or the people of North Carolina eventually might overturn those prohibitions. But unless and until they do, same-sex marriage is not legal here, and we cannot issue licenses for it.”
Riddick posed an important question: “…If registers are free to disregard laws that we or others disagree with, where does it end? Can we stop providing copies of public records? Or charge $100 per page? Can we ignore statewide recording fees we oppose? Can we banish customers we don’t like?”
“It is the duty of registers of deeds to uphold the law as it is, period,” Riddick added. “And when the law changes in any respect, we have to follow that, too. In our offices, it doesn’t matter what we or anyone else thinks of it.”
She said no one should ask registers to breach their solemn oaths by “donning the purloined raiment of legislators and judges.”
But Chilton seems to have no problem with the idea of taking on these additional roles and interpreting the U.S. Constitution even before the U.S. Supreme Court has weighed in directly on the issue.
“Perhaps this candidate feels his message will be welcomed in Orange County, where more than 78 percent of voters opposed the Marriage Protection Amendment,” said Dr. Creech. “But what about the rest of the state, where the amendment confirming state laws that had been on the books for decades passed, 61 to 39 percent? Moreover, God forbid that a majority in Orange County would favor lawlessness, even if they supported same-sex marriage.”
He said renegade registers — or potential candidates for the office — who believe they can single-handedly change the law won’t be doing anyone any favors by signing marriage licenses.
“What they will do is simply create a legal quagmire that will be embroiled in the courts for years to come,” he added. “That’s certainly not the role of a public servant or office holder.”