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N.C. GOP lawmakers tell officials it’s OK to refuse to marry same-sex couples

N.C. GOP lawmakers tell officials it’s OK to refuse to marry same-sex couples

RALEIGH, N.C. — Twenty-eight Republicans in the North Carolina Senate are urging state courts administrators not to punish employees who refuse to marry gay couples based on religious objections.

Phil Berger
Phil Berger

The group led by state Senate Leader Phil Berger Sr. on Friday issued a letter to the director of the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts asking him to reverse course on an earlier directive ordering magistrates to perform civil weddings for gay couples or face dismissal from their state jobs.

A federal judge struck down the state’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage earlier this month, part of a wave of rulings nationwide declaring such state prohibitions unconstitutional.

All but five GOP senators signed the letter, claiming the requirement to marry gay couples violates religious freedoms.

At least two magistrates have chosen to resign.

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Last week, Berger said he would introduce legislation to protect state officials who refuse to issue marriage licenses or perform weddings for same-sex couples.

Berger, along with House Speaker Thom Tillis, say they plan to appeal the ruling that struck down the state’s gay marriage ban, and have hired National Organization for Marriage chairman John Eastman to lead their legal team.

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