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
& Record as telling the crowd. “I don't hold any
animosity against anyone, but I will stand by my religious
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
“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