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North Carolina’s “Magistrate Recusal” Law to be heard in federal court next week

Next Wednesday, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia will hear arguments in Ansley v. Warren, the federal lawsuit challenging Senate Bill 2. SB2, passed two years ago, allows North Carolina magistrates who do not believe in marriage equality to opt out of their judicial oath to uphold the United States Constitution.

Ansley v. Warren challenges Senate Bill 2 under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

LGBT advocates are speaking out against the harms of SB2 ahead of the May 10th hearing:

“This law distorts the true meaning of religious freedom. From the day it was proposed, it’s been clear that SB2 is about one thing and one thing only – finding a new way to discriminate against same-sex couples. We will keep standing up to discrimination until LGBTQ people are equal in every sphere of life,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.

“SB2 is a misrepresentation of one of the most fundamental American core values as it opens the door for discrimination against loving same-sex couples behind a veil of religious freedom. People of faith across North Carolina know that discriminatory bills like SB2 is not what being a person of faith is about,” said Chris Sgro, Executive Director of Equality NC.

According to the Campaign for Southern Equality the plaintiffs include three couples:

  • Diane Ansley and Cathy McGaughey, a married couple and taxpayers in McDowell County who were plaintiffs in General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Reisinger, which struck down Amendment One on October 10, 2014
  • Carol Ann Person and Thomas Person, a married couple and taxpayers in Moore County who were denied the ability to marry in 1976 after two magistrates in Forsyth County claimed that their religious beliefs against interracial marriage would not permit it. (A subsequent lawsuit resulted in a federal judge ordering that the magistrates in Forsyth County comply with Loving v. Virginia)
  • Kelley Penn and Sonja Goodman, an engaged couple and taxpayers in Swain County.

NC Policy Watch Courts and Law reporter Melissa Boughton will have more on this story as it makes its way through federal court.

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