It’s official: Former Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton is now a bona fide national celebrity.
Chilton’s overnight fame is the result of his pledge to sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples, in defiance of state law, after he’s sworn in as Orange County Register of Deeds.
The national press is now paying attention, and on Thursday night, Chilton made an appearance on Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.
Things started on an awkward note when guest host Ari Melber struggled with pronouncing the word “Carrboro.” (See video, below)
After Melber recovered from that flub, he asked Chilton to defend his position.
“What are you trying to do here?” Melber asked.
“Well, I’m trying to be the register of deeds of Orange County, North Carolina, mostly,” Chilton replied, with a chuckle. “But I’m a legal scholar, as well as a real estate attorney. “And after reading all the cases that are involved with same-sex marriage that have come down from the federal courts, it seems very clear to me that North Carolina’s state constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage is definitely contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”
Chilton won the three-way Democratic primary for Register of Deeds on Tuesday, beating Sara Stephens and incumbent Deborah Brooks, He’ll run unopposed in November.
Neither of his primary opponents echoed his vow to immediately start signing same-sex marriage licenses despite Amendment One, which was approved by a majority of North Carolina voters in a 2012 referendum.
Melber asked Chilton what he would do if he received a court order to desist.
“I’m going to obey and competent court order that may be issued in connection with this,” said Chilton. “As an attorney, I’m obliged to do that, as well as an elected official. But you know, honestly, I don’t know that any such order is necessarily going to be forthcoming.”