Moments ago, the North Carolina state House voted to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of Senate Bill 2. A three-fifths majority was needed to override the veto, and today’s vote was 69-41. This means that this discriminatory bill is now law.
SB2 allows county magistrates in North Carolina to refuse to perform civil marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples – or any other couples – if it violates their religious beliefs. Additionally, it allows some county employees to refuse to handle marriage licenses for couples that don’t meet their religious standards.
“Senate Bill 2 is unconstitutional, and will undoubtedly be challenged in court. This bill, which will now become law, is discriminatory and treats gay and lesbian couples as second class citizens. We are more determined than ever to achieve full equality for LGBT people in North Carolina and to ensure that LGBT youth know that they are not alone,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.
“This law is nothing more than state sanctioned discrimination. It is a terribly misguided attempt to rewrite what equal protection under the law means. Equality and fairness are not principles that are decided on a case-by-case basis, dependent upon who happens to be working the counter on a particular day. Neither the United States Constitution nor the North Carolina Constitution permit any such thing. It is terribly unfortunate that this many elected officials don’t understand that,” says Jake Sussman of Charlotte-based Tin Fulton Walker & Owen and lead counsel in General Synod of the UCC v. Reisinger, the lawsuit that struck down Amendment One last October.
“Every magistrate and every elected public official, swears to an oath to uphold the U.S. and North Carolina constitutions. At the core of both – at the core of our civic life – is the commitment that all persons be treated equally under the law. To authorize elected officials to ignore the law based on religious belief, in the words of Justice Antonin Scalia, invites ‘anarchy’ – every elected official would be a law unto himself or herself. We are famously and importantly a nation of laws, not of men; SB2 flips that fundamental principle on its head and declares that we are not a society of laws but solely of men doing as he (or she) chooses. SB2 invites, begs, pleads for a lawsuit to declare it fundamentally unconstitutional,” says Luke Largess of Charlotte-based Tin Fulton Walker & Owen and lead counsel in General Synod of the UCC v. Reisinger, the lawsuit that struck down Amendment One last October.