North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory vetoed a bill that would allow court officials to refuse to marry certain couples on religious grounds. Although the bill did not specifically reference same-sex marriage, it was intended to allow magistrates to keep their jobs while refusing to officiate those marriages.
“I recognize that for many North Carolinians, including myself, opinions on same-sex marriage come from sincerely held religious beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman,” McCrory, a Republican, said in a statement.
“However, we are a nation and a state of laws. Whether it is the president, governor, mayor, a law enforcement officer or magistrate, 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; therefore, I will veto Senate Bill 2.”
Same-sex marriage is legal in North Carolina and the bill will return to the legislature. If lawmakers want to pass the measure and override the veto, at least three-fifths of of the legislature will have to vote for it again.
State Senate Leader Phil Berger, who introduced the bill, and House Speaker Tim Moore, both Republicans, said in a statement that they “respect but disagree with the governor’s decision.” Their joint release did not reference the possibility of another vote on the matter.
“Both actions will send a strong message that no public official is exempt from the constitution they themselves have sworn to uphold and that all North Carolinians deserve equal access to state services under the law,” Equality North Carolina’s executive Chris Sgro said.
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