Carole Kaiser and Mary Burson have been together for 40 years, raised eight children and have a total of 13 grandchildren -- and North Carolina still won't allow them get married.
Accompanied by their reverend, two of their children and a crowd of approximately 70 supporters, Kaiser and Burson entered the Henderson County Register of Deeds office to apply for a marriage license Oct. 2, despite the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
"Carole and I are here today to apply for a marriage license," 79-year-old Burson told Register of Deeds Nedra Moles, according to Blue Ridge Now. "We love each other, we've been together for 40 years... we've raised eight children together and we want to make the commitment that our brothers and sisters that are heterosexual can make."
Though Moles denied their application, the symbolic nature of the attempt was not lost. As the pair left the Register of Deeds' office, they were greeted by supporters, family and friends, Joe. My. God pointed out.
Kim Gallagher, Kaiser and Burson's daughter, was part of the group that came to support her parents. "My prayer is that my children will not experience discrimination and that they will open their hearts to diversity, in whatever regard," Gallagher is quoted as saying. "And I think their grandmothers have taught them how to do that. And how to be brave."
Kaiser and Burson's attempt to apply for a marriage license occurred in conjunction with the "WE DO Campaign," an initiative pioneered by the Campaign for Southern Equality in response to the inability of same-sex couples to legally get married in the majority of southern states. It functions by staging high-visibility attempts by same-sex couples to apply for marriage licenses despite state legislation declaring such unions illegal.
Over 80 same-sex couples across North Carolina have attempted, unsuccessfully, to apply for marriage licenses since 2011.
Kaiser and Burson reportedly hoped that Register of Deeds Nedra Moles would follow in the steps of a Pennsylvania county clerk who issued licenses to gay and lesbian couples despite his state's legislative prohibition against same-sex marriage.
"I hope that one day, we can get married in our home state," stated Kaiser. "That's my wish."
Check out a slideshow of images from Kaiser and Burson's attempt to apply for a marriage license below.