NC Legislature Overrides Veto of Marriage Discrimination Bill

To no one’s surprise, the North Carolina legislature has overridden Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of a bill that allows government officials to refuse to perform same-sex weddings even though they are legal in that state. Because they think it’s okay for the government officials to pick and choose which laws they’ll follow.

Government officials in North Carolina can refuse to perform same-sex marriages by citing religious objections under a new law pushed through on Thursday by the Republican-led legislature, which voted to override the governor’s veto.

The law protects the jobs of magistrates and other officials who refuse to perform marriages of gay couples by citing a “sincerely held religious objection.”

Governor Pat McCrory, also a Republican, had said the officials who swore to defend the Constitution and perform their duties of office should not be exempt from upholding their oath.

The state House of Representatives on Thursday overrode his veto by reaching the three-fifths majority in a 69-41 vote. The state Senate held a similar vote earlier this month.

North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore said in a statement after the vote that the law “protects sincerely held religious beliefs while also ensuring that magistrates are available in all jurisdictions to perform lawful marriages.”

So if a Muslim DMV clerk has a “sincerely held religious belief” that women shouldn’t drive cars and refuses to issue driver’s licenses to all women, you’d be okay with that, right? Hell no, he wouldn’t. He’d be screaming “SHARIA LAW! THE MUSLIMS ARE TAKING OVER!” As always, when the religious right says “religious freedom” what they really mean is “Christian privilege” — we don’t have to follow the same rules everyone else does.

The good news is that this law is almost certainly going to be struck down in court very shortly.

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  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    So if a Muslim DMV clerk has a “sincerely held religious belief” that women shouldn’t drive cars and refuses to issue driver’s licenses to all women, you’d be okay with that, right? Hell no, he wouldn’t. He’d be screaming “SHARIA LAW! THE MUSLIMS ARE TAKING OVER!”

    Now you’re just being ridiculous. That would never happen. It can’t. North Carolina already banned Sharia law.

     

    As always, when the religious right says “religious freedom” what they really mean is “Christian privilege” — we don’t have to follow the same rules everyone else does.

    Look, it’s not Religious Freedom if you can’t force yours on everbody else. That’s just Common Sense.

  • John Pieret

    this law is almost certainly going to be struck down in court very shortly

    Not necessarily. Constitutionally, as long as they provide equal access to licenses and celebrants to gays as straights get, the decision as to who is going to perform those services is pretty much up to the state/local government. The state constitution might pose a problem but that would be for the state courts to decide.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    John Pieret “…as long as they provide equal access to licenses and celebrants to gays as straights get…”

    Good one. I’m a sucker for dry humor.

  • grumpyoldfart

    Haven’t you Americans got some famous song where you brag about living in the land of the free? What’s that all about?

  • Jared James

    This is totally the land of the free…to enact silly, unconstitutional provisos that everyone knows won’t stand up a day in court but Jesus likes, and what Jesus likes, Jesus gets.

    So basically, it’s the land of free Jesus. Which we all pay for, one way or another.

  • peterh

    Yet another example of special pleading – read here religion-based discrimination – provided by North Carolina’s inmates of their debating society for the aged, infirm and totally bigoted.*

    *A nod here to Mark Twain who could not possibly deal out satire fast enough to keep up with the intellectual and even moral morass the US has become.

  • Steve Caldwell

    Modusoperandi says:

    Now you’re just being ridiculous. That would never happen. It can’t. North Carolina already banned Sharia law.

    The so-called Sharia Law ban in North Carolina doesn’t mention Sharia Law by name. It bans all foreign laws.

    Technically, this ban would include any legislation based on Biblical rules and posting of Ten Commandments in courtrooms.

    Unless the government official is claiming a religious exemption based on a Native American religion, it sounds like any personal religious exemption would be a violation of the so-called Sharia Law ban.

  • gerryl

    I read that the law says if someone makes their religious objections known and refuses to perform same sex marriages, that person will have to refrain from performing ANY marriages for 6 months. So what happens if all the staff at a location take that position? No more marriages? Do they stagger their objections to provide coverage? Do they appoint a designated apostate?

  • whheydt

    Just need to get enough SS couples to visit each county where it’s known that most (or–even better–all) of the local officials will claim the religious exemption. Do this every six months and the state will be picking up the tab for an extra official who doesn’t object and he will be the *only* one in the county that can do the work. (As I read what has been said, if the religious exemption is invoked, that person can’t do *any* marriages for six months.)

    Once the bill comes do, I’d bet the legislature will back down in a hurry.

  • whheydt

    Re: gerryl @ #8…

    As I understand it, in that case, the state will find someone that doesn’t object and have them work in that county office. See my post at #9 for how to use that to throw a spanner in the works.

  • hunter

    “Because they think it’s okay for the government officials to pick and choose which laws they’ll follow.”

    No, actually the basis of all these “religious freedom” laws is that they think it’s OK for “Christians” to pick and choose which laws they’ll follow.

  • blf

    Isn’t NC where the “full of arrows in the head” nutters what to establish their theocratic regime? (Or is that SC ?)

  • http://www.facebook.com/den.wilson d.c.wilson

    John Pieret:

    Constitutionally, as long as they provide equal access to licenses and celebrants to gays as straights get,

    Yeah, so as they provide separate but equal . . . oh, wait.

  • John Pieret

    d.c.wilson:

    I understand the impulse to think that but that’s not the case as the law is written (though, of course, the devil is in the details of how it is implemented). If a magistrate claims a religious exemption from SSM, then s/he can’t perform any marriage (for six months, at which time, presumably, s/he would have to declare again). They can’t just marry straight couples. I’m not certain what the status of clerks is, but if one of those can say “I’ll only issue licenses to straight couples,” then the law is in constitutional trouble. Still, if they make sure that same-sex couples can get marriage licenses at all the same hours and without any greater delay than opposite-sex couples, it might pass constitutional muster. The biggest problem with “separate but equal” was that it was never equal. As long as same-sex couples are treated equally by the state/local government, the choice of which personnel do what job is pretty much up to the government.

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    The biggest problem with “separate but equal” was that it was never equal. As long as same-sex couples are treated equally by the state/local government, the choice of which personnel do what job is pretty much up to the government.

    No.

    That was never the biggest problem with “separate but equal”. At a synagogue with women on the left, men on the right and a barrier between them so that the only men who can see the women at all are the ones speaking to the congregation, and those folk are equally seen by both men and women, we have a situation of “equal”. hell, even though this isn’t done, for the sake of argument, say that women and men alternate sides, so if there’s a roof leak it eventually drips on both men and women equally. Totally equal.

    So, now you have no problem with this?

    Maybe you mean

    The biggest barriers to successfully arguing that US Jim Crow laws are constitutional is that Mr Crow followed through on the separate much better than he did on the equal.

    In that case, you’re probably right.

    I’m in a quandary, because the statement exists in a context in which you’re talking about constitutionality, but I responded to the first of the two sentences I quoted strongly on its own.

    To the extent you intended the “biggest problem” to be limited to constitutional arguments, I’m right there with you and sorry for thinking you might have made a broader statement.

    If you did mean the broader statement, however, I disagree.

  • John Pieret

    Crip Dyke:

    To the extent you intended the “biggest problem” to be limited to constitutional arguments

    I was, in fact, only talking in context of constitutional problems. The Constitution and specifically the Bill of Rights and 14th Amendment deal with how government treats people, not how people treat each other. Of course I’m appalled by ultra-Orthodox Jews treatment of women … and the “Quiverful” Christians as well … or, for that matter, Augusta National’s exclusion of women from their golf club. But those aren’t examples that fall under the Constitution and, in fact, I would defend the right of those groups against the interference of the government in their affairs (no matter how much I had to hold my nose).

    Another point is that the law did take magistrates (who are more intimately involved with the couples) out of the equation by banning them from performing any marriages if they refused SSMs. I suspect the job of this kind of magistrate is rather dull and they probably look forward to performing marriages. At least they are paying a price for their bigotry. And who would want someone performing their marriage who thought you were grave sinners and acolytes of the Devil?

    As to the clerks, they are only performing “ministerial (not in the religious sense) functions.” They hand the couple the forms and, after they are filled out, check them for completeness, stamp them, file them and give the couple the marriage certificate to be signed by the celebrant and witnesses, which is then sent back to the clerks for filing. It would be nice to have a happy, upbeat clerk to deal with, but after 40+ years of practicing law, that is more rare than not. But even after all these years, I’m sure my late wife and I never learned the name of the clerk who issued the license or what s/he thought of us getting married.

    There were arguments that segregated schools (black or white) can never be equal because students never learn how to deal with others of different backgrounds, cultures and social status, but that’s a whole different discussion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/den.wilson d.c.wilson

    As long as same-sex couples are treated equally by the state/local government, the choice of which personnel do what job is pretty much up to the government.

    And that’s the rub. The whole point of separating people is so that they won’t be treated equally. Same sex couples will have to shop around to find the one magistrate in their county willing to marry them. Straight couples won’t.

    And I don’t believe for a second that this six month ban will be enforced. Magistrates will likely concoct all kinds of “scheduling conflicts” to keep from performing same-sex marriages while pushing the straight couples to the head of the line. If they get called on it, they can then fall back on the religious exemption. Then, a week later, they’ll petition for a waiver of the six-month ban because there aren’t enough magistrates in the county to marry all the straight couples and why should they have to wait just because of those icky gay couples who hate Jesus?

  • John Pieret

    d.c.wilson:

    As I said the devil will be in the details of the implementation of the law. It at least provided a mechanism to expand the duty to perform marriages to circuit judges if no magistrates will do it. The interesting thing is (at least as written) the law would shut down all civil marriages in the area if neither magistrates or circuit judges could be found to marry same-sex couples. It’s been a while since I looked at the law, but I don’t remember any provision for a waiver of the 6 month ban. Of course, as soon as they try that, the ACLU would be all over their ass.

    As a practical matter, I suspect that most same-sex couples live in the larger and rather liberal cities of NC (Romney barely carried the state in 2012) and there will be little trouble finding magistrates or judges to perform SSMs in those areas.

  • colnago80

    Are not federal judges empowered to perform marriages? SCOTUS associate judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg has performed 2 same sex marriages.

  • whheydt

    Re: colnago80 @ #19…

    Probably depends on the state. I would suspect that any SCOTUS Justice that wants to celebrate a marriage in their home state would be granted the right to do so more or less automatically and very likely in any other state as well, so long as the marriage they were celebrating wasn’t one the state officials didn’t want to have happen. For instance, it might be hard for a Justice to solemnize a SSM in Alabama at the moment. Of course refusing said Justice in that case would probaly be viewed with disfavor by any number of Justices and the intent to perform such a marriage could be seen as either telegraphing a result known to the Justice, a slap in the face of the Alabama State Supreme Court (or just Roy Moore), or even just that particular Justice’s vote on the issue or some combination of all three.

  • Quantum Mechanic

    whheydt:

    […] a slap in the face of the Alabama State Supreme Court (or just Roy Moore) […]

    Might not be worth the judicial consequences, but if it were to happen anyway I’d pay to see that.

  • whheydt

    Re: Quantum Mechanic @ #21…

    Yeah…it’d be interesting to see a SCOTUS Justice conduct a same-sex wedding in Alabama. The only thing that would top it would be if Moore died of stroke or heart attack when he heard about it. (Note: I am neither threatening Moore, nor wishing him ill. However, there are people whose death wouldn’t cause me to mourn. Moore is one of those.)