NC Law: Clerks Can “Opt Out” Issuing Same-Sex Marriage Licenses If Against Religion

Associated Press

While many across the nation cheered Friday and rushed over the weekend to the altar, there have been state leaders who are pushing back against the Supreme Court ruling that declared gay marriage constitutional nationwide under the equal protection clause.

One of those leaders is Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton. He said clerks and magistrates who are religiously opposed to same-sex marriage should not have to issue licenses or perform ceremonies.

It’s a move drawing both sharp criticism and praise, but it’s not a new idea. In North Carolina, it’s the law.

Tar Heel state lawmakers pushed forward the provision saying those government officials who find gay marriage against their religious beliefs can opt out. The catch is that someone in the office must perform these tasks, but those who object don’t have to let anyone know until a same sex couple is at the counter.

“They shouldn’t face a shuttered window where others wouldn’t,” said Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation for LAMBDA Legal, a legal advocacy organization for gay and lesbian people.
“What’s really critical is that same sex couples not be treated any differently from other couples.”

LAMBDA is ready to take legal action against individuals who opt out, saying they are in violation of constitutional law. First, Sommer says it’s necessary to see if it’s just all talk.

“Are there magistrates? Are there clerks who are actually going to not do their job? Are they really going to step back as government officials and refuse to carry out their duties,” questioned Sommer.

LAMBDA plans to let the chatter die down and see how the country responds, with the hopes that same-sex marriages will one day been seen as common place as traditional marriages.

Another major question is whether or not churches, synagogues or mosques would lose their tax exempt status if they didn’t perform gay marriages.

Republican Senator and presidential candidate, Lindsey Graham, said that’s what he would protect against if he were elected president.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court ruling still states that religious leaders are protected under the first amendment and will not be forced to condone something against their beliefs.

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