North Carolina has recently been taking a lot of flak in the media, for what is ultimately the fallout of colliding lifestyles. Yesterday, June 11, the North Carolina House overrode state Governor Pat McCrory’s veto on the so-called marriage refusal bill, which enables state officials who are certified to perform marriages to opt out of doing so for a minimum period of six months.
The bill was dubbed anti-LGBT, because it was introduced last fall when same-sex marriages were legalized in North Carolina; this prompted the resignation of several magistrates, who argued that marrying same-sex couples conflicted with their religious beliefs. Two of the magistrates then filed law suits against the state, arguing that they should not be required to choose between their job and their beliefs.
This legislation has given rise to an emotional outcry in the media, pitting religious homophobics against progressive liberals and the LGBT community. When the bare facts of the situation are extricated from the sensationalism and emotionally reactive frenzy stirred up in the media, however, what is left are simply two different belief systems and lifestyles at play here, imposing upon one another. This is why North Carolina is taking flak for colliding lifestyles.
A religious individual may have a variety of religion-related reasons for not wanting to perform marriages for same-sex couples. For example, religious people may hold the belief that God will send them to Hell when they die if they perform marriages for homosexuals. On the other hand, a religious individual may also be motivated by disrespect or condemnation of the homosexual lifestyle, or perhaps even resent the existence of homosexuality and desire to eliminate it. These latter may constitute the religious beliefs to which one or more of the magistrates refer. The true nature of the religious beliefs that motivated the magistrates to refuse to marry same-sex couples is a private matter and perhaps, in a worst case scenario, a personal problem. The right of the magistrates to choose not to marry same-sex couples on the basis of “religious beliefs” and based on their chosen lifestyle, however, is a right to the same extent that it is a right of same-sex couples to marry.
On the other hand, same-sex couples want to have the right to marry. According to the new law, all counties in North Carolina are required to provide same-sex couples with a qualified person who can and will officiate their wedding, Meanwhile, magistrates who want to uphold their own lifestyles and their idea of religious integrity are able to opt out of performing marriages for same-sex couples and, to be fair, are then not permitted to perform marriages at all for at least six months. Gay couples can be married by officials who want to marry them, and those who do not want to marry same-sex couples will not lose their jobs.
The governor of North Carolina, however, deemed the marriage refusal bill to be unconstitutional and therefore vetoed it. According to Governor McCrory, “No public official, who voluntarily swears to support and defend the Constitution and to discharge all duties of their office should be exempt from upholding that oath.” However, the Constitution also upholds the right of each individual to practice their religion freely. In the meantime, somewhere having fallen in between the lines of the Constitution, North Carolina will still be taking flak for these two colliding lifestyles.
By Lucia Ray
Think Progress: North Carolina Overrides Governor’s Veto, Allows State Officials To Refuse To Conduct Marriages
ACLU: Two Stains on Our Nation as Anti-LGBT Bills Pass in Michigan and North Carolina
Huffington Post: North Carolina Anti-Gay Marriage Bill Becomes Law After Legislature Overrides Govenor’s Veto
Photo Courtesy of Stephen Melkisethian’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
In-Line Photo Courtesy of Kmadrone’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License