Updated: NC House Taking Up Gay Marriage 'Opt-out' Bill

Mar 4, 2015

Updated Thursday 7:17 am

Clergy and advocates differ whether judicial officials are obligated by law to carry out civil same-sex marriages in North Carolina even if they object to gay marriage based on religious grounds.

Several people addressed Wednesday a House judiciary panel considering a Senate bill approved last week that would allow a magistrate or assistant or deputy register of deeds to refuse to carry out marriage duties.

Episcopal Church rector the Rev. Lorraine Ljunggren says government officials take an oath to impartially and faithfully carry out the law and protect the rights of individuals. But the Rev. Mark Creech of the Christian Action League of North Carolina says the First Amendment means any person can practice their religious beliefs without fear of state reprisal.

No vote was taken on the bill Wednesday.


Original post:

The state House is quickly taking up Senate legislation giving North Carolina magistrates and other judicial workers the ability to refuse to carry out duties for same-sex marriages due to their religious objections.

A House judiciary committee scheduled debate Wednesday on the measure, which cleared the Senate last week. Senate leader Phil Berger filed the bill in response to a local magistrate quitting his job rather than presiding after federal judges struck down North Carolina's same-sex marriage ban in October.

The proposal would prevent a magistrate or assistant or deputy register of deeds from performing duties for all marriages for at least six months.

Opponents of the exemption say public officials can't pick and choose which duties they'll execute and consider it thinly-veiled discrimination.