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The state House wasted little time on Thursday in voting (69-41 ) to override Governor Pat McCrory’s veto of Senate Bill 2. The legislation allows magistrates and registers of deeds to opt-out of performing same-sex weddings.  The Senate overrode the governor’s veto on June 1st, meaning the measure now becomes law despite McCrory’s objections.

“The General Assembly has reaffirmed that SB-2 protects sincerely held religious beliefs while also ensuring that magistrates are available in all jurisdictions to perform lawful marriages,” Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) stated after the vote.

Opponents of SB2 are condemning the House’s decision to validate the bill they say is clearly a license to discriminate:

marriage amendment“This is a sad day for North Carolina that history will not judge kindly,” said Sarah Preston, acting Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “Just eight months after our state extended the freedom to marry to same-sex couples, extremist lawmakers have passed discrimination into law, allowing government officials to deny marriage services to virtually any couple. This shameful backlash against equality will make it harder for all couples in our state to marry and force many to spend what is supposed to be a happy day trapped in a maze of government offices. We encourage any North Carolina couples who encounter new hurdles because of this discriminatory law to contact our office.”

“Senate Bill 2 is unconstitutional, and will undoubtedly be challenged in court. This bill, which will now become law, is discriminatory and treats gay and lesbian couples as second class citizens. We are more determined than ever to achieve full equality for LGBT people in North Carolina and to ensure that LGBT youth know that they are not alone,” said Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.

“We are disappointed to see the House vote against the the legal rights and best interests of LGBT people and of the entire state of North Carolina,” said Equality NC executive director Chris Sgro. “From the business community to local leaders to the governor, North Carolinians have stood up and said Senate Bill 2 is deeply problematic and discriminatory legislation. While it targets same-sex couples, in the process it creates problems for all North Carolinians who seek use of taxpayer-funded public services.”

“This law is nothing more than state sanctioned discrimination. It is a terribly misguided attempt to rewrite what equal protection under the law means. Equality and fairness are not principles that are decided on a case-by-case basis, dependent upon who happens to be working the counter on a particular day. Neither the United States Constitution nor the North Carolina Constitution permit any such thing. It is terribly unfortunate that this many elected officials don’t understand that,” said Jake Sussman of Charlotte-based Tin Fulton Walker & Owen and lead counsel in General Synod of the UCC v. Reisinger, the lawsuit that struck down Amendment One last October.

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Before the NC House attempts to override Governor Pat McCrory’s veto of the magistrates recusal bill, they might want to review the findings of an informal survey conducted by several of the state’s Registers of Deeds.

Here’s more from the Buncombe County Register of Deeds:

The majority of Registers of Deeds from across the state do not have a favorable opinion of Senate Bill 2, according to a survey released today.

Drew Reisinger, the Buncombe County Register of Deeds

Drew Reisinger, the Buncombe County Register of Deeds

This is the first such survey of the officials whose offices issue marriage licenses and who would therefore be required to implement Senate Bill 2.

Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger said he undertook the survey with the assistance of several fellow Registers. The survey began last week and closed today. Senate Bill 2 is tentatively set for a veto override vote in the NC House tonight.

The survey asked respondents “Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Senate Bill 2?” Of the 54 Registers who responded, 51 reported an unfavorable opinion. Only 3 reported a favorable opinion.

Gov. Pat McCrory vetoed Senate Bill 2 in May on the grounds that it would exempt public officials from upholding their oaths of office. The North Carolina Association of Registers of Deeds (NCARD) has not taken a position on SB 2.

House leaders opted not to take up the override vote Monday evening, instead placing the issue on Tuesday’s calendar for a possible vote. The Senate overrode McCrory’s veto of SB2 on June 1st.

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Two bills guaranteed to spark fireworks in the state House were not heard Monday evening as had been expected. Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer requested her bill (House Bill 562) eliminating North Carolina’s pistol purchase permit system be sent back to the Rules Committee. (Presently the Rules Committee is not scheduled to meet this week.)

The Mecklenburg County Republican explained the bill has “many moving parts” and more time was needed to draft amendments.

HB 562, which would also allow legislators to carry concealed handguns at the General Assembly, is drawing increasing criticism from groups like Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

House leaders also decided Monday evening not to attempt an override of Governor Pat McCrory’s veto of Senate Bill 2, allowing magistrates to opt out of performing same-sex marriage ceremonies for “sincerely held” religious beliefs. The veto override is back on Tuesday’s House calendar.

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Governor Pat McCrory ended the suspense on Wednesday, issuing a statement saying that he would sign House Bill 465, legislation that triples the waiting period for women seeking an abortion.

McCrory said he believes the bill serves to better protect women:

“Regarding HB 465, some very positive progress was made during the last several days to protect women’s health. Working with House and Senate members, we ensured that contact, including a simple phone call, would start a reasonable process that protects women’s health, and we also more clearly and rationally defined medical training and qualifications to ensure there will be no further restrictions on access. In addition, there are other provisions that protect children in the bill, something my administration sought. Therefore, I will sign this bill.”

Sarah Preston, acting Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina, doesn’t see it that way:

“A woman is more than capable of taking the time she needs to make her own personal medical decisions without the government forcing her to endure an unnecessary and potentially harmful delay.”

Preston joins us this weekend on News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon to discuss HB 465 and the ACLU’s reservations regarding Senate Bill 2. For a preview of that radio interview, click below:

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