Rarely does a race for the register of deeds come with real political ramifications. Leave it to ultra-liberal Orange County, the testing ground for progressive governance, to make it so. Carrboro attorney Mark Chilton has served as a Chapel Hill town councilman, a Carrboro alderman and, most recently, mayor of Carrboro. He should be Orange Register of Deeds, too.

Chilton is a politician with an activist’s heart. Thus, a central plank of Chilton’s campaign has been his eyebrow-raising promise to issue same-sex marriage licenses in Orange County, Republican lawmakers in Raleigh be damned. Chilton, a local attorney, couches his argument in legalese. As he points out, elected officials are required by law to uphold the U.S. Constitution and all state laws “that are not inconsistent therewith.” Time after time, federal courts nationwide have rejected state bans on same sex marriage as unconstitutional. By Chilton’s reckoning, he’s simply doing his job. We believe him. It’s a noble cause and Orange County, a longtime leftist leader in North Carolina, is fit to take it up.

If you think his campaign just a lark for an activist cause, consider this: Chilton recently completed an extensive atlas of Orange County, after five years of researching land records.

Of his opponents, incumbent Deborah Brooks would heed the state’s unjust law. Sara Stephens, who claims five years experience in the register of deeds office, pledges to accept same-sex marriage applications and hold them until the law is overturned. We are siding with Chilton, a progressive who will move the office forward.