Decorative Scales of Justice in the CourtroomWritten by Don Byrd

A controversial bill allowing county magistrates to refuse to perform marriage ceremonies if they personally object on religious grounds has become law in North Carolina, after the House voted 69-41 to override the Governor’s veto.

The Charlotte Observer explains the bill in its report on the vote:

Senate Bill 2 would allow magistrates to be exempt from performing weddings and register of deeds employees to decline to issue marriage licenses if they have a religious objection. In his veto, McCrory said no public officials should be allowed to avoid upholding aspects of the law.

Senate Leader Phil Berger of Eden, who sponsored the bill, said the legislation was an attempt to balance “reasonable accommodations” for public employees’ religious beliefs, without discriminating against anyone.

The bill requires that workers seeking the exemption cannot perform any type of wedding for at least a six-month period.

Governor Pat McCrory (R-NC) vetoed the bill last month, saying “no public official who voluntarily swears to support and defend the Constitution and to discharge all duties of their office should be exempt from upholding that oath.”