So, if the “religious beliefs” of a public official (like, for instance, a register of deeds) cause him or her one to oppose interracial marriage or, say, marriage between heterosexuals who are incapable of procreation, should that public official have the right to decline to issue marriage licenses to such couples?
According to the ironically-named North Carolina Values Coalition, the answer to that question is, by all appearances, “yes.” How else to explain the group’s efforts late last week to “inform” public officials throughout the state that they are free to decline to issue licenses to same-sex couples if to do so would violate “their conscience”?
Happily, the good people at Equality NC are speaking up to refute this nonsensical propaganda. This is from a release the group distributed late last Friday:
Today, two anti-LGBT organizations sent an unsigned memo to all North Carolina registers of deeds offices. The memo suggests that Registers of Deeds and their employees could refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if their personal beliefs conflict.
The misleading memo saying “registers of deeds are not forced to issue licenses contrary to their conscience,” cites religious freedoms as a justification for not fulfilling a magistrate’s oath of office.
Equality NC immediately responded to the misleading memo, saying its sources, the so-called NC Values Coalition’s Tami Fitzgerald and the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) are simply wrong to suggest a state employee’s personally-held beliefs would allow them to violate their job duties and the constitutional rights of others, calling the memo “dangerous.”
“These fringe groups are proffering a dangerous argument that is meant to encourage state employees to violate a federal court order, their oaths of office, and the rights of LGBT North Carolinians,” said Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC.
In other words: The pro-discrimination groups do not know what they are talking about and are promoting unlawful behavior by public officials who are obliged to enforce the law. Let’s hope the values Coalition missive in the “trash” file where it belongs.
Read the rest of the Equality NC statement by clicking here.