N.C. House panel weighs bill to exempt officials from same-sex weddings

North Carolina state capitol in Raleigh. LGBTQ Nation

RALEIGH, N.C. — Clergy and advocates differed Wednesday whether over judicial officials are obligated by law to carry out civil same-sex marriages in North Carolina even if they object to same-sex marriage due to their religious beliefs.

North Carolina state capitol in Raleigh.

North Carolina state capitol in Raleigh.

Several people addressed a House judiciary panel charged with considering a Senate bill approved last week that would let magistrates and assistant and deputy registers of deeds refuse to carry out marriage duties with a “sincerely held religious objection.”

The bill was filed by Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, to address the concerns of some magistrates who resigned after federal judges struck down in October a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Voters approved the amendment in a referendum in 2012.

No vote was taken on the measure Wednesday. Committee chairman Rep. Leo Daughtry, R-Johnston, said afterward no decision had been made about how lawmakers would handle the bill moving forward.

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Under the bill, magistrates and assistant and deputy registers of deeds who bring religious objections would have to stop marriage duties for all couples for at least six months. The elected register of deeds and the chief district court judge for each county would fill in as a last resort.

When a couple goes to the register’s office to obtain a license, a magistrate can officiate the marriage.

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