The NC House voted 65-45 Wednesday to allow magistrates to opt out of performing wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples if they have a ‘sincerely held religious belief’ opposing such unions.
Opponents of Senate Bill 2 argued the measure gives magistrates a license to discriminate, and allows employees paid by North Carolina taxpayers to decide which job duties they wish to fulfill.
Rockingham County Rep. Bert Jones broadened the debate telling the chamber that allowing same-sex marriages to take place was going against God’s will.
“I believe in my heart that as we move further and further away from God and from his word, that we can expect to see his blessings disappear,” reasoned Jones.
Surry County Rep. Sarah Stevens suggested that this would not pose a hardship in the state’s smaller counties as anyone could go online and get a license to perform weddings, leaving magistrates out of the equation.
Rep. Susan Fisher of Buncombe County warned her colleagues SB2 sent the wrong message to many of the large corporations the state was trying to recruit:
“This bill says that some people’s rights matter and other people’s rights don’t matter.”
In the end, the bill passed its second reading, with third and final approval slated for Thursday before heading to the governor’s desk.
Governor Pat McCrory has voiced reservations about SB2, but has declined to say whether he intends to veto the bill.
To read the bill in its entirety, click here. To hear a portion of Wednesday’s spirited debate, click below.