North Carolina lawmakers on Thursday
overrode Republican Governor Pat McCrory's veto of a bill that will
allow some court officials to opt out of duties related to marrying
gay and lesbian couples.
The bill, SB2, allows magistrates and
some register of deeds workers to avoid duties for all marriages
based on a “sincerely held religious objection.”
The Republican-led House joined the
Senate in overriding McCrory's veto early Thursday morning with a
Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive
director of the Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE), called the bill
discriminatory and unconstitutional in a statement.
“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.”
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 measure's chief sponsor, Senate
leader Phil Berger, a Republican, vowed to introduce the legislation
shortly 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.
The American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) of North Carolina also criticized passage of the bill.
“This is a sad day for North Carolina
that history will not judge kindly,” Sarah Preston, acting
executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina, said in a
statement. “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.”