North Carolina forced to pay magistrate who wouldn’t marry gays $300,000 in ‘damages’

Karen Pulfer Focht, AP

In Donald Trump’s America, you can get paid for not doing your job as long as you use your religion as a shield. Case in point: North Carolina will have to pay $300,000 to a magistrate who quit rather than marry same-sex couples.

The state will pay Gayle Myrick, a former Union County magistrate, $210,000 in lost wages and retirement benefits. The rest will go for attorney fees.

North Carolina instructed their magistrates to follow federal law after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Myrick objected and asked to be excused from performing an important function of her job.

With a resignation letter in hand, Myrick demanded special accomodations and the judge who supervised her declined, saying state guidelines didn’t allow for that flexibility. The state has since changed their law and allows officials to opt out of performing marriages if they cite a religious belief that requires them to discriminate.

While the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission strongly supported LGBT rights under the Obama administration, an administrative judge ruled in favor of the woman who refused to do her job, saying she didn’t actually quit. Since doing your job is pretty much a requirement of staying employed, her refusal would have led to her termination.

North Carolina has since changed their laws to appease the religious right and anti-LGBT public officials to allow magistrates to opt out of performing weddings if they agree not to marry anyone – gay or straight – for six months after their recusal.

Lawyers for the state originally planned to appeal the administrative judge’s ruling but Trump’s new policies giving the religious right a license to discriminate against LGBT people made any attempt futile. The state abandoned the appeal and agreed to settle with Myrick without admitting fault.

Welcome to Trump’s America, where civil rights laws are negotiable as long as you say white Jesus would approve of your prejudice.

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