“Gay”-rights advocates in North Carolina are in court to force every state magistrate to endorse “same-sex marriage” by performing ceremonies, even if it conflicts with their religious beliefs.
The demands in the Ansley v. Warren case in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals undermine the claim that the objective of same-sex duos is to have the same access to marriage as heterosexual couples.
It’s not enough to have the same access, the plaintiffs contend.
The “gay”-rights activists aim was profiled in a friend-of-the-court brief filed in the case, which had been dismissed by a trial judge. Liberty Council is seeking to intervene on behalf of the constitutional requirement that the state not burden faith, because “the attorney general will not vigorously defend the law.”
The lawsuit brought by homosexual advocates challenged the state’s SB2 law, which allows magistrates to opt out of performing any marriage ceremonies. It stipulates that the state will provide a magistrate from another office to conduct a ceremony if a magistrate opts out.
U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn dismissed the case, ruling the plaintiffs had no standing because they weren’t personally injured by the law.
“As plaintiffs have made no allegations of an ‘injury in fact’ that might otherwise allow them to assert standing in this case, plaintiffs have failed to meet their burden of showing they have standing to bring Due Process and Equal Protection claims,” Cogburn wrote.
A lawyer endorsing the plaintiffs’ arguments explained to the Duke Chronicle: “The whole point was to allow these magistrates to declare their religious objections, but make sure that there would never be a person that couldn’t get married, so they couldn’t challenge the law.”
The plaintiffs argued that the use of tax money to provide the alternative access to magistrates violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Liberty Counsel explained in its filing, on behalf of Magistrate Brenda Bumgarner, that SB2 is not only constitutionally permissible, it is required.
The law states, “Every magistrate has the right to recuse from performing all lawful marriages under this Chapter based upon any sincerely held religious objection.”
Liberty Counsel explained it had sued on behalf of magistrates seeking an accommodation for their religious convictions when the Supreme Court created same-sex marriage. When the legislature approved the law allowing exemptions and overrode the governor’s veto, Liberty Council withdrew the suit.
Then homosexual activists sued to force everyone to endorse same-sex marriage.
“Magistrates have the constitutional right to follow their conscience and rights to free exercise without fear of punishment,” said Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel.
“The LGBT agenda seeks to steamroll over the conscience of everyone who believes in natural marriage. We are proud to defend Magistrate Brenda Bumgarner and others in this case as it has an effect on all judges and their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
It was an order from the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts that originally required magistrates to conduct ceremonies in violation of their faith.
The brief argues the requirement violated the magistrates’ constitutional rights.
“The AOC ordered that no exemptions or accommodations would be made, including reasonable accommodations for sincerely held religious beliefs that only the union of one man and one woman can be solemnized as a marriage. Magistrates who held those religious beliefs and convictions … were given the Hobson’s choice of surrendering their sincerely [held] beliefs and violation their conscience or losing their jobs,” the brief explains.
But the refusal even to consider accommodations “violated the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, [paragraph] 13 of the North Carolina Constitution, under which the government may and sometimes must accommodate the religious beliefs of its citizens.”
“The AOC’s directive also violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which requires that employers, including the government, reasonably accommodate the religious beliefs and practices of employees,” Liberty Counsel explained.
The state law resolved those issues and “re-established the primacy of the free exercise and conscience rights of North Carolina magistrates by providing them with the opportunity to recuse themselves from performing all marriages, thereby avoiding the conflict between their beliefs and mandates requiring the solemnization of same-sex relationships.”
The brief pointed out that SB2 “grants same-sex couples the same access to a magistrate as is available to other couples by providing that a judicial officer be available during hours designated for marriages.”
Without SB2, it explained, North Carolina is in violation of both the U.S. and state constitutions.
“Accommodating religious beliefs and conscience through exemptions such as SB2 has been recognized by this court, and the U.S. Supreme Court as striking the proper balance between the promises of the Free Exercise Clause and the prohibitions of the Establishment Clause,” Liberty Counsel said.
Without SB2, the state would have a de facto religious test for public service, which is banned by the U.S. Constitution.
Without the law, “those who have sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage as the union of one man and one woman would be disqualified from serving.”
“Such a requirement resembles a Maryland constitutional provision invalidated by the Supreme Court.”
The demand that the law be struck and Christians be ordered to violate their faith should be dismissed, the brief argues, since, SB2 is “constitutionally and statutorily necessary to preserve and protect the fundamental free exercise and conscience rights of North Carolina’s magistrates.”