By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
February 5, 2016
FRANKLIN – Liberty Counsel, a pro-bono assistance law firm based in Orlando, Florida, dedicated to advancing religious liberty, the sanctity of human life and the family, announced Thursday that it had filed a motion to intervene in Ansley v. North Carolina.
The case erroneously argues that the legislation, SB 2 – Magistrates Recusal for Civil Ceremonies, that became law in June of last year over the Governor’s veto, permits magistrates to violate their oath of office.
Senator President Pro-Tempore, Phil Berger, the bill’s champion, has rightly described the lawsuit as “just the latest attempt by the far left’s political correctness mob to force their beliefs on everyone else by trampling the First Amendment guarantee of religious freedom.”
The passage of the SB – 2 was precipitated by federal Judge Max O. Cogburn’s ruling that knocked down North Carolina’s constitutional marriage amendment. Only days later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the constitutional amendments protecting marriage as one man and one woman in 31 states were unconstitutional, imposing same-sex marriage on the entire country.
Consequentially, magistrates were instructed by the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts that “all magistrates must treat same-sex marriages for which a marriage license has been issued by the Register of Deeds the same way that marriages between a man and a woman are scheduled and conducted.” It was further stated, “If a magistrate refuses to discharge the duties of his or her office, including a refusal to perform a marriage of a same-sex couple, that refusal is grounds for suspension or removal from office…as well as, potential criminal charges…”
SB 2 does not allow any same-sex couples to be denied a marriage license or civil ceremony, but simply states: “Every magistrate has the right to recuse from performing all lawful marriages under this Chapter based upon any sincerely held religious objection.”
Since the law was enacted more than 30 magistrates, have recused themselves from the performance of civil ceremonies.
Attorney General Roy Cooper is legally responsible for defending the law. But according to Liberty Counsel, Friday, February 5th was the deadline for filing a defense and as of Thursday, February 4th, he had not done so.
Cooper, who is also running for Governor, has often made disparaging comments about the law on the campaign trail.
Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said, “This is irrefutable evidence that Cooper should be disqualified from defending the magistrate’s law. He despises it and could care less as to whether it survives. Having him defend the law in court is like ISIS defending the United States.”
Matt Staver, Founder, and Chairman of Liberty Counsel said homosexual activists are suing the state because one county (McDowell), as provided by law, brings a neighboring magistrate in to perform marriage ceremonies. He said the plaintiffs were falsely claiming any nominal cost of religious accommodation is a violation of due process and serves as an establishment of religion. “However, both the U.S. Constitution and the North Carolina Constitution require accommodation of individuals’ religious beliefs, regardless of their employment status. Liberty Counsel is representing, among others, Judge Brenda Bumgarner, who has an excellent record during her 10 years of service as a magistrate,” said Staver.
Staver also argued that homosexual activists want to force “dozens of magistrates into a situation similar to Kim Davis, where thy have to choose between following their conscience or face punishment.”
Kim Davis is the Rowan County, Kentucky, Clerk of Court, who was unwilling to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples with her name on it. Davis argued it was a violation of her religious beliefs. She suffered a short stint in jail for her defiance of the Supreme Court ruling, but her religious beliefs were later accommodated for by the state.
“This illustrates the vitriol of hate toward anyone with an opinion different than the homosexual lobby,” said Staver. “If those who demanded that Kim Davis resign were genuine in their belief, shouldn’t they now be pressuring Attorney General Roy Cooper to resign if he cannot fulfill his legal duty to defend North Carolina law?”
Dr. Creech added, “If you think Roy Cooper as the Attorney General has been bad for North Carolina, just think of what Roy Cooper as the state’s Governor would be. God save the great state of North Carolina.”