GOP leader: NC officials can refuse to marry gays

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A top North Carolina Republican says he will back a bill protecting state officials who refuse to issue marriage licenses or perform weddings for same-sex couples.

Senate Leader Phil Berger Sr. said Tuesday said he will introduce legislation in response to the forced resignation of a county magistrate who said he would refuse to marry gays, citing his personal religious views.

The state court system has said any magistrates who refuse to heed the recent federal court ruling striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban are violating their oaths and could face dismissal. Berger said magistrates and registers of deeds who refuse service to gay couples are within their rights under Constitutional protections guaranteeing freedom of religion.

Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis plan to appeal the federal marriage ruling.

 

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