Friday, May 22, 2015

North Carolina Magistrates Sue Over Requirement They Perform Same-Sex Marriages

Yesterday in North Carolina, a magistrate and a former magistrate (who had not been reappointed after 10 years of service) filed suit challenging a memorandum issued by the Administrative Office of the Courts in October requiring all magistrates to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies in the same manner as any other marriage ceremony.  The memorandum was issued to implement federal court rulings striking down the state's same-sex marriage ban.  The complaint (full text) in Smoak v. Smith, (NC Super. Ct., filed 5/21/2015) contends that the failure to make exceptions for magistrates with sincerely held religious beliefs opposed to same-sex marriage violates their conscience, religious liberty, free speech, due process and equal protection rights under the North Carolina Constitution. Liberty Counsel issued a press release on the lawsuit.