After overriding Governor’s Veto, North Carolina becomes first state to allow magistrates to deny same-sex marriage licenses
A bill widely criticized as a discriminatory measure targeting LGBT couples was passed into law on Thursday morning as the North Carolina House of Representatives joined its Senate colleagues in overriding Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto.
Senate Bill 2‘s passage now allows magistrates and registers of deeds to opt out of providing civil marriage services based on their “sincerely held” religious beliefs. It had easily passed both the House and Senate before facing a veto from McCrory on May 27. The Senate overrode the veto on June 1.
The House moved quickly on the override vote on Thursday morning, 14 days after McCrory’s veto.
There was no debate on the motion, though Democratic Leader Larry Hall (Durham) was given time to speak on the measure. He encouraged members to sustain the governor’s veto.
“The right reason the governor vetoed it was because it would sanction state employees being released from their sworn duties to the citizens of the State of North Carolina,” Hall said. “We should not be in the business of sanctioning state employees lying to the government and to the citizens of the state, taking a sacred oath and then willy nilly at their convenience deciding they will not uphold their oath to the citizens of North Carolina.”
The final override vote came in at 69-41, meeting the constitutional three-fifths requirement.
Several members of the chamber, including Republicans, who had originally voted against the measure were absent on Thursday. Speaker Tim Moore had held off for several days on hearing the veto override — a maneuver former Speaker and current U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis called his “veto garage,” allowing time for the most opportune moment to vote on a bill.
Representatives from LGBT and civil rights organizations offered swift condemnation of the veto’s successful override.
“This a sad day for North Carolina that history will not judge kindly,” Sarah Preston, acting Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina, said in a release. “Just eight months after our state extended the freedom to marry to same-sex couples, extremist lawmakers have passed discrimination into law, allowing government officials to deny marriage services to virtually any couple.
“This shameful backlash against equality will make it harder for all couples in our state to marry and force many to spend what is supposed to be a happy day trapped in a maze of government offices. We encourage any North Carolina couples who encounter new hurdles because of this discriminatory law to contact our office.”
Top image via Equality NC instagram
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