The North Carolina Senate on Wednesday
approved a bill which seeks to allow magistrates to opt out from
marrying gay and lesbian couples.
Gay couples began marrying in North
Carolina in October after the state's ban on gay marriage was struck
down by a federal court.
The bill allows magistrates to opt-out
from performing marriages by citing a “sincerely held religious
The measure's chief sponsor, Senate
leader Phil Berger, a Republican, vowed to introduce the legislation
after a magistrate in his district decided to resign after 12 years
rather than marry gay couples.
Berger organized a rally for John
Kallam Jr. outside the Rockingham County Courthouse.
“[F]orcing Magistrate Kallam to give
up his religious liberties to save his job is just wrong,” Berger
said at the time.
Wednesday's 32-16 vote was largely
along party lines, with Republicans mostly in favor of the
At least six other states are
considering similar measures.