More than 500 people on Tuesday rallied in support of a North Carolina magistrate who resigned rather than marry gay and lesbian couples.

John Kallam Jr.'s resignation after 12 years as a Rockingham County magistrate is effective October 31st. He is believed to be the second magistrate to resign after officials directed magistrates to perform civil marriages regardless of sexual orientation or face suspension or dismissal from their jobs.

“I want my departure from the courthouse to be as honorable as possible,” Kallam is quoted by the News & Record as telling the crowd. “I don't hold any animosity against anyone, but I will stand by my religious principles.”

The event, held outside the Rockingham County Courthouse, was organized by Senate leader Phil Berger, a Republican, who said, “forcing Magistrate Kallam to give up his religious liberties to save his job is just wrong.”

Berger announced that he will introduce legislation that would protect magistrates and registers of deeds who, citing their religious faith, refuse to issue marriage licenses or perform wedding ceremonies for gay couples.

Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, said in a statement that Berger was simply wasting taxpayer dollars.

“Sen. Berger continues to waste taxpayer dollars and ignore the real issues of the day, like our economy, education, and the environment,” Sgro said. “The issue at hand is not about individuals' rights to freedom of religion and Berger, as an attorney, should understand the law well enough to know that. The issue [is] employees of the State of North Carolina doing their jobs.”