All four magistrates in McDowell County are refusing to perform same-sex marriages.
Under Senate Bill 2, magistrates may legally recuse themselves from performing such ceremonies if they have a “sincerely held religious belief” opposing such unions. But under the new law, magistrates who recuse themselves, must recuse themselves from performing all marriage ceremonies for six months.
Two Rutherford County magistrates are having to drive a half hour back and forth three times a week to cover duties that McDowell County’s magistrates have refused to perform.
WLOS-TV in Asheville reports:
“Every single one has said they will opt out and won’t do the marriages. They have arranged for Rutherford County magistrates to devote ten hours to performing marriages here,” Chief District Judge Randy Pool said. “They are following the law and cannot perform marriages of any kind for six months, just as long as we do ten hours a week which is the what the law requires.”
The office now offers marriage services three days a week for limited hours: Mondays 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesdays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursdays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Equality NC was quick to criticize the decision, calling out the workers on social media:
Across North Carolina fewer than three dozen magistrates have recused themselves from performing marriages. This is the first reported case where all the magistrates in one county have refused to serve gay couples seeking to marry.
Earlier this week, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis made national headlines when she was released from jail, six days after being held in contempt for refusing court orders that she issue marriage licenses to gay couples.