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:
“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.