The North Carolina state legislature has jumped on the ‘hate-the-gays’ bandwagon, and passed a bill allowing local officials to decline to perform same-sex marriages (anticipating the United States Supreme Court ruling due before the end of June on the subject).
SB2 changes state law to allow local officials, specifically the magistrate, assistant register of deeds, and deputy register of deeds, on written notice to the chief district court judge stating they have a sincerely held religious objection to performing a marriage ceremony, to opt out of their job duties. Such a notice would exempt them from performing the marriage, but also prevents them from performing any marriages for at least six months. Provisions of the bill require the Administrative Office of the Courts to insure there is someone available at least 10 hours a week over a 3 day period to perform marriages, so technically there would be someone available (part time) to conduct marriages.
The vote was 67-43, with only three Republican Representatives voting against the bill. One Democrat voted in favor. (four Democrats and six Republicans were absent) The state Senate passed the bill back in February. The governor, Pat McCrory, has stated he opposes the legislation, but is expected let it pass into law without his signature.
Rather than require government employees to do their jobs, and treat all North Carolina citizens equally, this law, when it comes into effect, would allow religious zealots to demean gay and lesbian couples by refusing them service. Can you imagine the uproar if I refused to handle a 9-1-1 call because of my objections to someone, based on some alleged religious belief, and placed them on hold until another operator was available? My job, and the job of any government employee, is to serve the public without discrimination. If you can’t do that, you shouldn’t be in government service.
Someone will eventually challenge this in court, and they’ll most likely win. Government employees simply can’t pick and choose which members of the public they will serve.
As we look around the country, and see the various attempts these past few years to denigrate and refuse service to the gay community, it’s always a Republican controlled state government that is at the heart of the actions. It should be clear by now that the GOP as a party hates LGBT people, and will do anything in their power to express that through the force of the law. For all their trumpeted ‘small government’, ‘local control’, and ‘personal freedom’ mantras, they certainly don’t mind ignoring all that when it comes to ‘the gay’.