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NC Gov. To Veto Magistrate Exemption From Gay Marriages

Governor Pat McCrory
Hal Goodtree
Flickr Creative Commons

Post updated: 3:55 p.m.

Gov. Pat McCrory says he will veto Senate Bill 2. In an email, McCroy said he plans to stop a plan to give magistrates the ability to opt out of performing weddings based on strongly held religious beliefs.

Opponents of the measure have called it a pathway to descrimination of same-sex couples. Supporters call it a religious freedom measure. McCrory's announcement comes just hours after state lawmakers approved the bill.

In his statement, McCrory said:

"I recognize that for many North Carolinians, including myself, opinions on same-sex marriage come from sincerely held religious beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman. However, we are a nation and a state of laws. Whether it is the president, governor, mayor, a law enforcement officer, or magistrate, no public official who voluntarily swears to support and defend the Constitution and to discharge all duties of their office should be exempt from upholding that oath; therefore, I will veto Senate Bill 2."

Lawmakers would need a three-fifths majority vote in each chamber to override any gubernatorial veto. There are enough votes in the Senate to override a veto. However, in the House, 72 votes would be necessary for an override. Hours before the Governor's announcement, 67 members of that chamber voted in support of the Bill.

Original post published: 2:09 p.m.

NC lawmakers have passed a bill that will allow for magistrate judges to be exempt from performing marriage duties for same-sex couples because of religious beliefs. 
The House passed the bill Thursday, mostly with Republican support in a 67 to 43 vote. The Senate approved the bill in February, also mostly along party lines. The bill will go to Gov. Pat McCrory, who could veto it and has said he won’t sign the bill

If it becomes law, Senate Bill 2 would allow magistrates and some registers of deeds to stop performing any marriage duties. State court officials would be required to find staff to offer marriage services for same-sex couples at least for at least 10 hours over three days of the week.

Republican supporters invoked their personal faith beliefs for almost four hours of debate in the House floor, and said the bill protects government workers’ religious beliefs. Opponents said the measure would legalize discrimination against certain groups.

Jorge Valencia has been with North Carolina Public Radio since 2012. A native of Bogotá, Colombia, Jorge studied journalism at the University of Maryland and reported for four years for the Roanoke Times in Virginia before joining the station. His reporting has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald, and the Baltimore Sun.
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