Same-sex marriages on the rise since Trump's election

    (Photo credit: Melissa Lausch and Brittany Camillo)

    Marriages between same-sex couples are up in Buncombe County since the election of Donald Trump as the nation's 45th president on Nov. 8.

    Throughout 2016, marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples made up about 10 percent of all marriages in the county. In the months since the election, that proportion is up to more than 15 percent. Halfway through January 2017, more than 20 percent of licenses issued were to same-sex couples.

    Employees at the county's Register of Deeds office say they've heard from multiple same-sex couples that they've rushed to get married because they're afraid that right could be taken away under a Trump presidency.

    Melissa Lausch and Brittany Camillo got married Saturday at the Women's March on Asheville.

    "We literally went into the crowd of people and held up a sign that said 'We're getting married right here, right now, can we get a witness?'" Lausch said.

    "It was better than I expected," Camillo added. "Everyone seemed to be more excited than we were."

    Lausch, 52, and Camillo, 27, met in 2014 when Camillo began working at Carmel's, one of the three restaurants Lausch owns (along with both Burgerworx locations in Asheville). Lausch was still in a relationship, but when it ended, their feelings quickly grew. They got engaged before Camillo left to spend time abroad in Korea and had planned on a summer wedding ... but changed their minds shortly after the election.

    "I felt like maybe our rights could be taken away," Lausch said. "And I fear they still can be, but I just wanted to have it on the record. This is what we wanted, this is the way we felt."

    "I never thought I'd get married either because it's just a piece of paper," Camillo said. "But then when I realized I was gay and didn't have the right to get married, it really became something important to me. Because first, I'm a human being and second, I'm an American. We're born into having those rights, and why does it matter if i marry a woman or a man?"

    A professor of law and women's, gender, and sexuality studies at Wake Forest University School of Law said there is nothing Trump can do directly to eliminate the right to same-sex marriage.

    Asked whether Trump can sign an executive order or direct Congress to pass a law outlawing same-sex marriage, Shannon Gilreath said, "that's an emphatic 'NO.'"

    Gilreath said only a lawsuit challenging that right could undo the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, and even then, the court would likely have to change its makeup. The replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016, will likely be a conservative-leaning justice, according to comments Trump during the presidential campaign. The court's 5-4 decision in Obergefell wouldn't likely change with the same ideological makeup of the justices currently serving.

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