The North Carolina House voted June 11 to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of Senate Bill 2, which allows government officials the ability to opt out of performing same-sex marriages. McCrory vetoed the bill May 28, saying government workers needed to uphold their oath of office and perform their duties, according to WRAL.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory
The Senate voted 32-16 against the veto four days later, before it moved on to the House. The House voted 69-41 to overturn the governor’s action. Ten members of the 120-member House were not present at the time of the vote.
The bill says magistrates and registers of deeds have the right to opt out of performing any marriage if they do so based on “any sincerely held religious objection.”
Opponents argued that the bill allows discrimination. Supporters noted that there is no "duty" under state law for magistrates and registers of deeds to perform marriages. It is an "additional authority" of the office.
Supporters also said the bill protects freedom of religion for government officials.
Senate Leader Phil Berger said, “This bill strikes a critical balance to make sure the freedoms granted to some under recent court orders do not erase the constitutionally-protected rights of others.”
“The legislation became necessary after federal court rulings knocked down the state’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman, forcing same-sex marriage on a citizenry that voted to uphold the traditional understanding of the sacred institution,” said Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League.
“Subsequently, at least 16 magistrates resigned their posts. Eight were known to have resigned because they felt their faith prohibited them from performing gay nuptials.”
Opponents of the bill, like Gov. McCrory, argue that magistrates and registers of deeds must fulfill all of their constitutional duties, upholding their obligation to the law.
He said in a statement after the vote, “It’s a disappointing day for the rule of law and the process of passing legislation in North Carolina. … I will continue to stand up for conservative principles that respect and obey the oath of office for public officials across our state and nation,” according to WRAL.
Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the N.C. Values Coalition, said in a press release, “It’s hard to believe that any governor – much less a conservative one – would veto a bill protecting the religious freedoms of his constituents. The House and the Senate made the right call in overriding Gov. McCrory’s ill-advised veto and we are grateful for their continued leadership in fighting to preserve this fundamental American freedom.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor.)