Thursday, December 10, 2015

Suit Challenges North Carolina Law Allowing Officials To Opt Out of Same-Sex Marriage Duties

As previously reported, last June the North Carolina General Assembly overrode the governor's veto to pass to pass Senate Bill 2 that gives individual magistrates have the right to recuse themselves from performing marriages based on any sincerely held religious belief and gives individual register of deeds personnel the right to opt out of issuing marriage licenses on similar grounds. (See prior related posting.) Yesterday three couples filed suit in federal district court challenging the constitutionality of the new law.  One of the couples is already in a same-sex marriage; a second same-sex couple acting as plaintiffs are engaged to be married; and the third are a blind, heterosexual interracial couple who in 1976 had to sue in order to marry because two North Carolina magistrates refused to perform the ceremony on religious grounds.

The complaint (full text) in Ansley v. State of North Carolina, (WD NC, filed 12/9/2015) contends that Senate Bill 2 violates the Establishment Clause, the Equal Protection Clause, and the Due Process Clause.  WNCN News reports on the filing of the lawsuit.  Rev. Mark Creech of the Christian Action League called the lawsuit "an effort by gay activism to run people of faith completely out of the public sector."  On the other side, Rev. Jamine Beach-Ferrara of the Campaign for Southern Equality argued that the bill "distorts the true meaning of religious freedom."