A county official in the US state of North Carolina has accepted applications for marriage certificates from several same-sex couples.

Supported by the Campaign for Southern Equality, at least ten couples went to file for marriage licenses on Tuesday with a view to being turned down, in protest against legal recognition of equal marriage in the state.

Buncombe County  Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger became the first county clerk to take applications from same-sex couples.

He accepted marriage license applications from ten same-sex couples on Tuesday, despite a 2012 amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage.

Now that he has accepted the requests, he has said he will hold the licences until he goes to Attorney General Roy Cooper for legal advice.

Register of Deeds David Granberry last Tuesday afternoon said he would not grant the marriage licences. He said he supported equal marriage, but that the law prohibited him from issuing them.

In May 2012, voters in the state passed a ban on equal marriage by a large majority, despite failing in Mecklenburg County.

Pennsylvania county clerk D Bruce Hanes previously issued over 170 marriage licences to same-sex couples, and had said he wanted to come down on the “right side of history”, deeming the state’s ban on equal marriage as unconstitutional.

Democrats in the state had said they would appeal against the ruling to block Hanes from issuing further licences, from 12 September.