Here is the statement we issued on March 3, 2011, right after we registered as domestic partners in the town of Carrboro:

Statement from Lydia Lavelle and Alicia Stemper:   

Today is the 100th anniversary of Carrboro.  On this day, our town celebrates our accomplishments over this past century, and our evolution from a small, working mill town into the progressive thinking, equality-for-all Carrboro of 2011. 

In 1994, Carrboro demonstrated its forward thinking nature by becoming the first municipality in North Carolina to offer domestic partner registration, only a decade behind the earliest on record in the United States (Berkeley, California in 1984). 

 As a couple, we said our vows in front of family and friends in a commitment ceremony several years ago. The ceremony was conducted by one of the ministers of our church. At that time, we could not register as domestic partners because our neighborhood had not yet been annexed by Carrboro.  Once we were annexed, we did not register for two reasons.  First, neither of us needed this as a condition for health insurance, the most common reason for these types of municipal registrations.  Second, domestic partner registration can also serve as a symbolic declaration of relationship. However, we decided that the declarations we made at our private commitment ceremony were enough.

But times change. Domestic partnership, civil union or same-sex marriage recognition is now available in most major countries around the world, and in sixteen (nearly a third) of our states.  This number continues to grow on a yearly basis.  According to a recent survey conducted by Elon University, more than half of North Carolina residents support legal recognition of same-sex couples.  However, in North Carolina, there are no state-wide domestic partnership or civil union benefits, and marriage is already denied same-sex couples by state law. But this is not enough for our North Carolina Senate.  Just last week, a bill was introduced in the Senate to amend the North Carolina Constitution to not only define marriage as between a man and a woman, but to make it the only  domestic legal union to be valid or recognized in our state.  In other words, not only will gay and lesbian couples continue to be denied the right to marry, they will also lose the ability to have those relationships recognized in any public way – even a symbolic one – and they will continue to be denied the legal responsibilities and benefits of marriage.

Those introducing the bill call it “Defense of Marriage,” but that is a misnomer. They are not looking to defend marriage, which would imply that marriage was being threatened. Instead, they are looking to exclude gay and lesbian citizens from having the same protections, the same responsibilities, the same recognition, and the same benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy. They are also aiming to keep same-sex couples from even having the ability to be symbolically recognized by their own communities as a valid couple.  We feel that this anti-gay bill is wrong.

Carrboro as a town has long stood against bigotry like this. It struck us that we are so grateful for this town, so proud of its leadership, and so humbled by its courage, that we wanted to make a symbolic gesture of our own.  Therefore, we chose to register as domestic partners on this date, tying our personal history to the history of this town as a way to say, “Thank you, Carrboro!”  We did this as a commemoration of the spirit of our town on its 100th anniversary. We did this as a statement of gratitude to Carrboro. And we did this as a statement of outrage to our legislators. The state of North Carolina should not be in the business of passing laws that exclude many of its citizens from the rights and the privileges that other citizens enjoy.

Congratulations, Carrboro. Thank you for taking leadership on matters of equality and fairness. Thank you for supporting and valuing your lesbian and gay citizens. We are proud to live here and proud to be registered as domestic partners.

Happy Anniversary!