McCrory To Veto Bill That Lets Magistrates Pass On Wedding Same-Sex Couples
Hours after the North Carolina House of Representatives passed the legislation, Governor Pat McCrory announced he will veto a bill that would allow magistrates to opt out of performing marriages for same-sex couples. But lawmakers may have the votes to override that veto.
The actual text of the bill would allow magistrates to opt out of performing all marriages, and registers of deeds from issuing marriage licenses, “based upon any sincerely held religious objection.” The county would still need to have a magistrate available to perform the ceremonies.
Representative Dean Arp, a Union County Republican, called it a necessary protection.
“Really the question is should you be fired for a job or be subject to disciplinary actions, because you choose to live your life by those sincerely held convictions and beliefs?” Arp asked.
The text does not explicitly mention marriage of same sex couples, but it’s clearly the focus. Senate leader Phil Berger introduced it for magistrates who resigned in protest after a federal judge lifted North Carolina’s ban on same sex marriage.
Representative Nathan Baskerville, a Vance County Democrat, argued the effect will be discriminatory.
“If a gay couple goes and asks to be married in front of this magistrate, are they being protected equally under the constitution, when they’re not getting treated the same as when a straight couple goes and tries to get married in front of a magistrate here in the state of North Carolina?” asked Baskerville. “That is the opposite of equal protection.”
In a statement this afternoon, Governor McCrory said he will veto the law, even though he opposes same sex marriage.
“Whether it is the president, governor, mayor, a law enforcement officer, or magistrate, 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,” the governor said.
Ten House members were absent during the final vote, but just over three-fifths of those present supported the bill—the number needed to override a veto. The Senate also passed the bill with more than three-fifths of the chamber’s support.