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North Carolina Conservatives Resist Accepting Defeat On Marriage Equality

Values coalitionThe North Carolina Values Coalition, a conservative “pro family” organization, is encouraging public officials to uphold the state’s former ban on same sex marriage that was recently declared to be unconstitutional.

In a widely circulated e-mail, the organization suggested that those responsible for the registration and issuing of marriage licenses could object to giving them to same sex couples using the First Amendment as justification. Should a so-called violation of religious rights be thought of as insufficient reason to deny a marriage license, the e-mail alternatively suggests appointing a debutee to conduct the procedure.

“One thing is clear--forcing voters across the state of North Carolina to carry out same-sex weddings when it violates their religious beliefs is wrong,” The NCVC’s executive director Tami Fitzgerald said in a press conference. “And it violates the free exercise of religion that’s guaranteed by the Constitution.”

Despite the NCVC’s insistence on using this potential “loophole,” North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory has publicly stated that, in following with the law, he intends to fully embrace gay marriage throughout the state. Still though, conservatives’ resistance to inevitable change is steadfast.

Gilbert Breedlove, a judge and magistrate in North Carolina’s Swain County, stepped down on Monday after refusing to marry a gay couple. He explained that he felt as if he had no choice.

"I was Christian when I started," he told the Citizen Times. "Then, the law didn't require me to perform something that was against my religious belief. Now that law has changed its requirements."

BergerBreedlove’s resignation spurred South Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger [pictured right] to propose introducing legislation that would legally exempt public officials with religious conflicts from wedding gay couples.

“The court’s expansion of the freedoms of some should not violate the well-recognized constitutional rights of others,” Berger said on Tuesday. “Complying with the new marriage law imposed by the courts should not require our state employees to compromise their core religious beliefs and First Amendment rights in order to protect their livelihoods.”


North Carolina Magistrate Resigns Over Gay Marriage: VIDEO

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A North Carolina magistrate yesterday took the decision to resign rather than perform same-sex marriages, reports WITN.

A memo to state magistrates on Wednesday said officials would be violating their oaths of office if they refuse to marry gay or lesbian couples.

Rockingham County Magistrate John Kallam Jr. said performing same-sex marriages would violate his religious beliefs and "would desecrate a holy Institution established by God Himself."

Kallam Jr. sent a letter to Chief District Court Judge Fred Wilkins saying when he took his oath of office, he didn't take it with the understanding that he would be required to marry gay couples.

On Monday, a magistrate in Pasquotank County refused to marry two men, citing religious objections.

Watch a report, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "North Carolina Magistrate Resigns Over Gay Marriage: VIDEO" »


North Carolina High School Cancels Play With Gay Scene for 'Sexually-Explicit Overtones'

53-5-K_a3jrgB8cRuJZfSKFAfSyyOKmo9eL7g5Ea0b0Though in 2010, it became the most widely-produced play among American High Schools, "Almost, Maine" has been cancelled due to opposition at a North Carolina high school, Maiden High School. The play is made up of nine vignettes about love, and one of the vignettes is about a gay couple. 

According to WSOC, “some parents and area churches complained”  about the play. The school then decided "Almost, Maine" was too controversial, cancelling it. In a statement on the decision, the school's Principal Rob Bliss (pictured) cited “sexually-explicit overtones and multiple sexual innuendos that are not aligned with our mission and educational objectives.”

According to a Maiden student, Conner Baker, who spoke with ThinkProgress, the students had already paid for rights to produce the play — a cool $300. The show had already auditioned and was in rehearsals.


North Carolina Magistrates Ordered to Perform Marriages for Gay Couples or Face Removal

Randy Jackson and Eddie Locklear

With same-sex marriage legal following a federal judge's ruling last week overturning North Carolina's ban on gay marriage, magistrates in the state have been ordered to perform marriages for same-sex couples or face suspension or dismissal from their state jobs.

The Associated Press reports:

A memo to state magistrates Wednesday said they would be violating their oaths of office if they refuse to marry gay or lesbian couples. The directive came after a magistrate in Pasquotank County on Monday refused to marry two men, citing religious objections.

That magistrate, Gary Littleton, will not be reappointed when his term expires in December due to an unrelated charge of assault a year ago. 

In other North Carolina news, a federal judge on Tuesday granted Republican state legislators the ability to intervene in lawsuits challenging the state's gay marriage ban. 

WRAL reports:

That leaves the door open for a potential appeal of the ruling. However, constitutional and family law experts agree an appeal is unlikely to succeed. The court to which any North Carolina appeal would go would be the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the same court that ruled Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional.


Gay North Carolina Couple Weds After First Being Denied Based On Magistrate's Religious Beliefs

NCMarriage

On Monday, Randy Jackson and Eddie Locklear of Elizabeth City, North Carolina attempted to make their partnership official after thirty-one years. The state's same-sex marriage ban, Amendment One, had been struck down and their request should have been respected. However, once at the courthouse they were turned away by a magistrate who claimed he could (or would) not marry them based on his religious beliefs. It was a disheartening turn of events, to be sure, and one that will likely have to be negotiated a great deal in certain states. Jackson and Locklear's story, at least, has a happy ending.

The Virginian Pilot reports:

Today, the couple finally tied the knot at the Pasquotank County courthouse.

A different magistrate, Lee Custis, presided over their civil wedding today, saying he was religious, but he had to follow the law.

He improvised slightly when he asked them if they would take each other's hand in marriage.

"Do you take this man to be your partner?" Custis asked.

After the short ceremony, both men were left emotional and amazed.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Jackson said. “It’s hard to put it in words. I didn’t think I’d live to see this.”

Congratulations to Randy and Eddie!

In related news, Joe Jervis over at Joe. My. God. has called out the Virginian Pilot on a shoddy poll asking, "Should magistrates be allowed to refuse to perform same-sex marriages based on religious grounds?" The poll, according to Joe, was up, then deleted, then back again with the "no" votes erased; the current standings are 94% yes, 6% no, and the paper tweeted at Joe saying that "All votes were deleted" when the poll malfunctioned. Poorly designed polling system, or a purposeful skew of data? What do you think?

Photo credit: Jeff Hampton of The Virginian Pilot.


North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory Says He'll Now Defend Gay Marriage

MccroryNorth Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (R) has stated that he fully supports gays’ rights to marry following U.S. District Court Judge Mac Cogburn Jr.’s decision that overturned the state's same sex marriage ban. Speaking to the Carolina Connection, the Governor admitted that while accepting gay marriage would require a fair amount of cultural evolution for North Carolina, his job as a public official was to uphold the court’s ruling.

“I think it's a time for healing on all sides,” he said. “Now that the disagreement has been resolved in the courts, it's our job to live together and work together and play together and respect each other together.”

McCrory’s election to the governor’s seat in 2012 marked the first time that the Republican party controlled both North Carolina’s senate and its general assembly since 1870. His tenure in office thus far has been marked by a number of classically conservative initiatives such as cutting unemployment benefits, opting out of Obamacare, and repealing the state’s Racial Justice Act. Most recently McCrory made headlines after the US Attorney’s Office launched an investigation into his administration’s potential involvement in settling environmental lawsuits on behalf Duke Energy.


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