Friday, May 29, 2015

North Carolina Governor Vetoes Bill Allowing Magistrates To Refuse To Perform Same-Sex Marriages

As reported by The Advocate, yesterday North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, a Republican, announced he would veto Senate Bill 2 (full text), which was sent to him earlier in the day by the state legislature. The bill provides that individual magistrates have the right to recuse themselves from performing all lawful marriages based on any sincerely held religious beliefs and that individual register of deeds personnel similarly may opt out of issuing marriage licenses. The Governor in a statement said (full text):
I recognize that for many North Carolinians, including myself,  opinions on same-sex marriage come from sincerely held religious beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman. However, we are a nation and a state of laws. 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; therefore, I will veto Senate Bill 2.
According to WITN News, a half hour after issuing the statement, he formally vetoed the bill.  In North Carolina, the Administrative Office of the Courts had previously issued a memo to judges and magistrates stating that magistrates must perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples who present a license in the same way they do for opposite-sex couples, and magistrates have filed suit challenging the absence of a religious liberty exception. (See prior posting.) The Gaston Gazette has reactions from various state legislators to the governor's veto.