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Gov. McCrory Won’t Sign Bill Allowing Magistrates To Avoid Performing Gay Weddings

Gov. Pat McCrory
Governor's Office

Gov. Pat McCrory said on Monday that he won’t sign a state Senate plan to allow court officials who oppose gay marriage for religious reasons to recuse themselves from officiating at weddings.

McCrory will not sign Senate Bill 2, which would allow magistrates to recuse themselves from officiating at any wedding, if it's approved by the House of Representatives, because it would conflict with federal court rulings that in October struck down North Carolina’s constitutional ban on gay marriage, he said.

"I don't think you should have an exemption or a carve out when you swore an oath to the constitution of North Carolina and to the constitution of the United States of America," McCrory said.

McCrory, during an interview on Charlotte's WFAE-FM, also questioned the motive behind "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" bills filed last week by Senate and House members to provide defense to anyone “whose exercise of religion is burdened by state action.”

McCrory said the bill, which is similar to a law signed last week in Indiana, is unnecessary and likened it to a recently failed plan in the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners to allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice.

"What is the problem they’re trying to solve?" McCrory asked. "I haven’t seen it up to this point in time."

Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), the most powerful member in the chamber, sponsored the magistrate bill, arguing that it’s a measure that would allow same-sex weddings in court houses while respecting the religious freedom of religiously-opposed magistrates.

Since gay marriage became legal in the state, at least six magistrates have resigned citing religious reasons.

McCrory, a Republican who has clashed with Berger and other Republican lawmakers over fiscal issues, also blasted a recent Senate proposal to distribute revenue from local sales tax collections to each county based on population. The plan would represent gains for sparsely populated counties but would cost millions to large cities such as Charlotte and Wilmington, McCrory said.

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