capitol dome section with flagWritten by Don Byrd

A North Carolina legislator is preparing to introduce a bill in response to magistrates who have resigned rather than perform same-sex marriage ceremonies they object to on religious grounds. State Senator Phil Berger argues that recent developments in marriage law guaranteeing the right of same-sex couples to marry should not override the religious freedom rights of state employees.

The Charlotte Observer reports:

The state court system has said any magistrates who refuse to heed the recent federal court ruling striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban are violating their oaths and could face dismissal. Berger said magistrates and registers of deeds who refuse service to gay couples are within their rights under constitutional protections guaranteeing freedom of religion.

Details of the legislation will be important in determining just how this balance is achieved. Should state magistrates receive an accommodation if another magistrate is available to perform a ceremony? What if no other magistrate is available?

(An example: last week a magistrate refused to perform a same-sex civil ceremony)

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