On Thursday morning, October 16, Raymie and his partner Matt walked into the Hamblen County County Courthouse and did what many Tennessee couples do when they’re in love: They asked for a marriage license.
“The only thing separating our family and having equality is a 45-minute drive across state lines,” Raymie explained to the Hamblen County Clerk. He was referring to North Carolina, which gained marriage equality last Friday.
But because they’re a gay couple, they were denied. Their state doesn’t recognize recognize their relationship – even though they’ve been together for nine years.
Less than a week ago, Matt and Raymie drove over to Asheville, North Carolina and celebrated with their friends after a federal judge struck down Amendment One and same-sex marriages began. They watched as clergy performed weddings on the steps of the Buncombe County Register of Deeds Office, legally uniting dozens of couples.
Thursday was the second time they’ve asked their local clerk for a license, and they plan to keep going back until marriage equality comes to Tennessee. A ruling on the issue of marriage could be handed down from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals any day now, impacting Tennessee and neighboring states.
WATCH this video to see what happened when they applied last year.
“Your zip code should not determine your freedoms, dignity or value as a human being,” said Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, who joined the couple today.
Matt and Raymie are among the estimated 10,898 same-sex couples living in Tennessee, a state with no legal protections for LGBT people and families.