North Carolina allows magistrates to opt-out of performing same-sex marriages

PinkNews logo on pink background with rainbow corners.

The North Carolina state Senate voted yesterday to allow government officials to refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

The ban on same-sex marriages was struck down last year, but some magistrates threatened to resign instead of carry them out. With the passing of this vote, magistrates can opt-out of performing marriages that they are opposed to due to “sincerely held religious objection”. It also applies to those who issue marriage licenses and certificates.

The bill makes provisions to ensure couples are not denied the right to marry. It does not specifically mention same-sex couples, referring to any marriage government officials may potentially object. Campaigners point that this may mean magistrates objecting to carrying mixed-race marriages.

Under the new rules, government officials may subject their objections in writing, and they would then be banned from carrying out marriages for six months or until they remove their objection.

Phil Berger, the Senate leader said: “While the courts have taken steps to provide special rights to some, we must not ignore the constitutionally protected rights of others.”

Reverend Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, said: “This discriminatory bill treats gay and lesbian couples as second-class citizens and distorts the true meaning of religious freedom.”

In October, a North Carolina magistrate resigned over his refusal to perform same-sex marriages.