July/August 2015 Church & State | AU Bulletin

Both chambers of the North Carolina legislature have voted to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of a discriminatory “religious freedom” bill. The bill will allow magistrates who object to same-sex marriage to opt out of solemnizing the ceremonies, even though they are public officials.

“If someone takes a job, they do not park their First Amendment rights at the door, and they are entitled to continue to exercise those rights,” said State Sen. Phil Berger (R-Guilford). But critics worried that it would invite a costly lawsuit, and McCrory objected to the bill on the basis that it would undermine the office of magistrate.

 “I recognize that for many North Carolinians, including myself, opinions on same-sex marriage come from sincerely held religious beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman,” McCrory, a Republican, said in a statement. “However, we are a nation and a state of laws. Whether it is the president, governor, mayor, a law enforcement officer, or magistrate, no public official who voluntarily swears to support and defend the Constitution and to discharge all duties of their office should be exempt from upholding that oath; therefore, I will veto Senate Bill 2.”

A three-fifths majority vote was required in each chamber. The North Carolina Senate voted 32-16 to override the veto in early June. The House followed suit about a week later, voting 69-41 in favor of the override.