Mandatory race question on marriage license triggers controversy

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The question of race on the application to get married now faces a lawsuit and change of policy in Virginia.

Until Friday, if you didn’t answer the question you would not get a license to marry.  Now, Virginia is following what North Carolina does.

In her long white dress and with her husband to be, it is a big day for Astrid Reyes and her children. She’s getting married.  

But, before she goes upstairs to the justice of the peace on the 9th floor of the Wake County Courthouse she and her fiance Carlos Aguilar have to get a marriage license.

Aside from the obvious questions like name and address, the marriage application also asks about race.

That question is the reason three couples have filed a federal lawsuit in Virginia questioning its constitutionality.

According to the suit, among the 230 choices in one county are Aryan and Mulatto.  And if you choose not to answer, the application is denied in Virginia.

“I think it should definitely be an option whether you pick exactly where you’re from or whether you choose to put on there,” said Aguilar.

In North Carolina, the race question is not mandatory. And just this past Friday, Virginia’s attorney general said it will no longer be in that state either.

Reyes has no problem answering the question though.

If you look at the in Wake County marriage application it includes not just various races in the list of choices, but nationalities also like Cuban, Egyptian and Honduran.

“I mean, personally, for me I’d like to say what I am and where I’m from no matter what color or gender you are,” said Reyes.  

The Virginia case claims the question about race is based on bigotry and not science.  

CBS 17 also caught up with Keith Green and his fiance who were applying for a marriage license.  

He said he likes the fact that you don’t have to answer the question in North Carolina.

“Yeah, I think people should at least have the choice, you know, whether they want to answer it or not. I don’t think it should be mandatory” said Green.

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