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Oct 16, 2014

UPDATE: Magistrates in Alamance must perform same-sex unions or face penalties, Equality NC responds

RALEIGH, N.C. (October 16, 2014) -- This week, North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts released a memo to Superior Court Judges, Chief District Court Judges, District Court Judges, Clerks of Superior Court and Magistrates including instructions that no state magistrate could refuse to marry same-sex couples. Read it here.

Today, Equality NC, the state's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organization, responded to news that the judge supervising Alamance County magistrates still hopes magistrates with religious objections won’t have to perform those ceremonies.

A chief district judge in Alamance County is continuing to push back on North Carolina’s recognition of same-sex marriage, as administrative officials for the state’s court system tell him and other county judges that magistrates must perform weddings for same-sex couples or face losing their jobs.

This week, Chief District Court Judge Jim Roberson has defended magistrates who say they won’t perform legal, civil same-sex marriages.

He’s asking for a “compromise” that allows some magistrates to opt out of their mandated legal obligations.

Equality NC has been monitoring efforts to discriminate against LGBT couples in Alamance, Pasquotank and elsewhere. They say Roberson is confusing an issue on which there is no legal debate.

“While there should be no confusion, Judge Roberson’s statements make it appear that certain magistrates he supervises who object to performing same-sex marriage ceremonies for religious reasons will not be required to do so, in violation of that law,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro.

Sgro added, “While we respect a person’s religious freedom and views, same-sex couples seeking non-religious ceremonies in taxpayer-funded state buildings by state officials who receive salaries from our tax dollars should not be put in the position to be refused by anyone working for the state of North Carolina. We pledge to work diligently with local, state, and federal officials to assure that all state employees, including those in North Carolina’s 100 counties, are upholding the laws of our state.”

ABOUT EQUALITY NC: Equality NC is the statewide organization working to secure equal rights and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender North Carolinians.

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