North Carolina Official Refuses to Perform Same-Sex Wedding

A magistrate in Pasquotank County, North Carolina refused this week to perform a same-sex wedding, something he is required to do now that the state officially recognizes such marriages. Start the countdown clock for cries of tyranny from the Christian right.

A magistrate turned them away.

“He said, ‘I won’t be performing your marriage because of my religious beliefs,’ ” Locklear said.

A federal judge struck down the state’s gay marriage ban late Friday. Monday was the first full business day that same-sex marriages could be performed.

“He has to do his job,” Locklear said. “He is not there to preach to us.”

Pasquotank County Clerk of Superior Court Connie Thornley confirmed that a magistrate declined to perform the marriage.

Magistrates must marry gay couples or risk losing their jobs, she said.

“They cannot refuse,” she said.

The magistrate Locklear named could not be reached for comment.

I’m sure the Alliance Defending Freedom or Liberty Counsel will argue that his religious freedom has been violated if he is forced to perform a gay wedding, but that is nonsense. He is a government official and is thus forbidden to discriminate in any manner. It’s no different than a clerk refusing to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple, or a DMV employee refusing to process a drivers license for women. You either do your job without discrimination or you should lose your job.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • John Pieret

    Even in N.C., the judicial ethics committee is unlikely to allow this. If he doesn’t change his mind, his title will likely be “ex-magistrate” before too very long.

  • Mark Mitchell

    SCOTUS has reinterpreted the Constitution. If you cannot support the current interpretation of the US Constitution and can therefore no longer swear to maintain that Constitution, you can no longer be magistrate.

    Convictions have consequences.


    “I, ___________, do solemnly and sincerely swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States; that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the State of North Carolina, and to the constitutional powers and authorities which are or may be established for the government thereof; and that I will endeavor to support, maintain and defend the Constitution of said State, not inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States, to the best of my knowledge and ability; so help me God.”

  • kantalope

    Actually, this might be a good career move. He can run for higher office and then get a gig on Faux News as a commentator – either move is sure to pay more than mere magistrating.

  • chilidog99

    FYI, another magistrate performed the wedding.

    The couple has declined to file a complaint over it, do no official action will be taken.

    The magistrate was apparently planning to retire in December anyway.

  • beezlebubby

    How about a Hindu (or vegetarian or vegan) county clerk refusing to issue a hunting license. Can you imagine the outrage?

  • Modusoperandi

    It’s already been done, in Harry Potter and the Martyred Magistrate. J.K. Rowling was really reaching by the end there.

  • eric

    @6 – so, are you saying this judge doesn’t like to think of two men muggling?

  • vmanis1

    There is no doubt that as a government employee, the esteemed Magistrate is required to perform his duties equally for all who come before him; one Canadian referred to a similar problem in Saskatchewan by saying `he has taken the Queen’s Shilling, he must now follow her orders’.

    In Saskatchewan, the provincial Human Rights Commission said that a Marriage Commissioner (a person appointed by the government) may not refuse to perform a same-sex marriage. Later, the provincial Supreme Court ruled that a proposed law permitting this refusal was unconstitutional. All other provinces now honor this decision.

  • ncmaxwell2013

    This morning, Pamela Weaver Best, general counsel to the NC Administrative Office of the Courts, issued a memo stating that magistrates would be violating their oaths of office if they refuse to marry gay or lesbian couples. She said magistrates who refuse to marry gay couples face suspension or dismissal. They could also face misdemeanor criminal charges for failing to discharge their duties. At least one person in this state understands constitutional law.