Since North Carolina’s denial of ‘gay marriage’ was ruled to be unconstitutional, at least 6-8 family court magistrates have resigned from their positions, citing that their Christian faith prevents them from performing so-called same-sex marriages.
On October 10, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. ruled in General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Cooperasuit that the state’s prohibitions against same-sex marriages were unconstitutional. North Carolina’s governor and attorney general conceded that a recent ruling in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to hear an appeal in that case established the unconstitutionality of North Carolina’s ban. State legislators sought, but were unsuccessful in stopping the effects of the ruling.
The suit was brought earlier this year by a coalition of apostate clergy, which include members of the United Church of Christ, Baptists, Lutherans and Unitarian Universalists who argued that North Carolina’s statute restricted religious freedom by making it a crime to preside at the solemnization of a couple that lacks a valid state marriage license.
Previously, it was Rockingham County magistrate John Kallam, Jr. and Swain County magistrate Gilbert Breedlove who resigned from their positions, and now at least four other judges resigned after the orders to conduct same-sex marriages were issued.
The magistrates declared that they are waiting on God to give them direction for the next steps of their lives. Kallam and Breedlove were followed by Bill Stevenson (Gaston County), Tommy Holland (Graham County), Gayle Myrick (Union County), and Jeff Powell (Jackson County) in tendering their resignations.
Stevenson is the most current magistrate to declare that his stepping down from his position has to do with conflicts with his faith. Stevenson issued his resignation on October 16, only six days after same sex marriage was legalized.
“It was something I had to do out of conscience,” Stevenson commented to NBC. “I felt like to perform same-sex unions would be in violation of the Lord’s commands, so I couldn’t do that.”
Stevenson has only been a magistrate for over a year and a half. His main source of income is his position as a North Carolina Magistrate, which pays more than $50,000 a year.
Stevenson quotes the Bible as his reason for his resignation. “‘I hate to wax it so biblical but it says ‘what good is it for a man to gain the whole world but lose his own soul,'” he stated.
Holland, fifty-eight, a magistrate from Graham County, who is Southern Baptist by upbringing said that he knew he had to resign the moment that he received a memo from the state saying that magistrates have to uphold the new marriage law no matter what their positions are on the same-sex marriage issue. He declares that God will take care of him.
Myrick, another magistrate, likewise declared that she cannot go against her own convictions. She believes that marriage is ordained by God to be between man and woman. She wanted to honor what the Word of God says. Myrick says that while she can perform the duties of the office impartially, she draws the line where her personal religious convictions are compromised. “It’s a personal religious conviction,” Myrick said. “I would have to compromise those convictions to continue to do my job.”
Powell, a pastor of Tuckasegee Wesleyan Church and now the former Fitzgibbon State’s justice of the peace confirmed as well that he stepped down from the position because of his position on same-sex marriages.
Other judges who have not resigned have declared that they will simply refuse to perform the so-called same-sex marriages. This refusal to perform a duty of the law could lead to their dismissal.
Republican State Senator Phil Berger joined by a team of 28 other Republicans have requested the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts to protect state officials who refuse to participate in same-sex marriages because of religious convictions.
Berger also commented that he will propose a bill that will protect state officials who refuse to issue marriage licenses or perform same-sex unions out of religious convictions.
Berger commented that “forcing Magistrate Kallam to give up his religious liberties to save is job is just wrong.”