Well, technically gay marriage is still legal in North Carolina. But it’s now the law that any country judge or employee with a hand in the process by which couples become married in North Carolina can opt out of doing their job if they harbor a “sincerely held religious objection” which leaves them offended by the idea of any particular couple—gay, interfaith, interracial, whatever—being married.
Can you imagine? What if you worked at WalMart, and thought that cat food was an offense against the animal kingdom? Then, when it came time for you to stock the store with cat food, you could say, “Sorry. I’m against cat food,” and quit working.
Man. Sweet job all of a sudden! Sort of. I mean, you’re still working at WalMart. But at least now you get to take super-long breaks. (In this case, six months long!)
What the Republicans of North Carolina have done is, of course, extremely unconstitutional. And they know it. They know all they’re doing is ensuring the legal system gets further clogged, and that extraordinary amounts of tax-payers’ money gets further wasted. But that’s okay with them, because now they have new reasons to posture and boast about what stalwart “defenders of the faith” they are.
And yet, despite all this, this morning I am cheered. Because this morning I read the below, which are quotes from three people involved in what happens, legally, in North Carolina. Read them along with me, and rejoice in their clarion call for all Americans—and yes, even the career Republican politicians in North Carolina’s House of Representatives—to harken to, and to remember … well, everything about this country that makes it purely awesome:
This law is nothing more than state sanctioned discrimination. It is a terribly misguided attempt to rewrite what equal protection under the law means. Equality and fairness are not principles that are decided on a case-by-case basis, dependent upon who happens to be working the counter on a particular day. Neither the United States Constitution nor the North Carolina Constitution permit any such thing. It is terribly unfortunate that this many elected officials don’t understand that. — Jake Sussman, awesome civil right lawyer.
Every magistrate and every elected public official swears to an oath to uphold the U.S. and North Carolina constitutions. At the core of both—at the core of our civic life—is the commitment that all persons be treated equally under the law. To authorize elected officials to ignore the law based on religious belief, in the words of Justice Antonin Scalia, invites “anarchy”—every elected official would be a law unto himself or herself. We are famously and importantly a nation of laws, not of men; [this law] flips that fundamental principle on its head and declares that we are not a society of laws but solely of men doing as he (or she) chooses. [This law] invites, begs, pleads for a lawsuit to declare it fundamentally unconstitutional.” Luke Largess, awesome civil rights lawyer.
[This law] is unconstitutional, and will undoubtedly be challenged in court. [It] is discriminatory and treats gay and lesbian couples as second class citizens. We are more determined than ever to achieve full equality for LGBT people in North Carolina and to ensure that LGBT youth know that they are not alone. — Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director, the Campaign for Southern Equality.