Back in April, two long-serving magistrates in North Carolina sued North Carolina. They wanted to recuse themselves from performing same sex marriage ceremonies since, as Christians, they believe a marriage is the union between a man and a woman. The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts told them they must perform all marriages. If they remained in office, they could face criminal prosecution for their refusal so they resigned.
Concerned that Christians would in effect be forced out of public service under such “do it or else” standards, last week the North Carolina legislature proposed and passed a bill allowing judges and magistrates to recuse themselves from performing marriage ceremonies. The bill covers all marriage ceremonies, not just same=sex ceremonies—the magistrates do not get to pick and choose, but the bill would allow them to continue to serve without forcing them to violate their religious beliefs.
Earlier today, Gov. Pat McCrory vetoed the bill. From a joint statement by the two sponsoring legislators:
Senate Bill 2 is necessary because a bureaucracy failed to make reasonable accommodations and instead forced some magistrates to make an impossible choice between their core religious beliefs and their jobs. A majority of the people’s elected representatives in both chambers agreed that this bill strikes an appropriate balance between the expansion of rights for some and our constitutionally-protected freedom of religion.
The North Carolina legislature is now considering overriding the governor’s veto.