North Carolina to Pay Over $200K to Magistrate for Not Accommodating Her Religious Convictions About Marriage

RALEIGH, N.C. — The State of North Carolina has agreed to pay over $200,000 to a former magistrate who resigned from the bench in 2014 as she felt forced out after a federal court struck down the state’s same-sex “marriage” ban and her superiors would not allow an accommodation for her religious beliefs.

As previously reported, in October 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Max Cogburn, Jr. ruled in the case of General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Cooper that “refusing to recognize same sex marriages originating elsewhere, and/or threatening to penalize those who would solemnize such marriages, are unconstitutional.”

The ruling resulted in the resignations of several Christian magistrates, who knew that they could not go against their convictions in officiating the unions of those of the same sex. Among those who stepped down from the bench were Judge John Kallam Jr. of Rockingham County, Bill Stevenson of Gaston County, Tommy Holland of Graham County, Jeff Powell of Jackson County, and Gayle Myrick of Union County.

Myrick’s supervisor sought to be accommodating to the magistrate, and offered to move her shift so that she wasn’t working during the hours when weddings are customarily officiated. Other magistrates also offered to cover for her. However, as her superiors said this was not acceptable, Myrick felt she had no other choice but to resign.

“Other magistrates routinely shifted their schedules for a variety of reasons—from simple things like fishing trips, to substantial issues like night classes or drug rehab. If Gayle had asked to shift her schedule for any other reason, she would have been allowed to keep her job,” the religious liberties organization Becket outlined. “But because her request was motivated by her religious beliefs, she was forced to resign just two months before her retirement benefits vested.”

Myrick filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, and last March, Administrative Law Judge Michael Devine ruled in her favor.

“Complainant demonstrated she was constructively discharged because of a changed employment requirement that conflicted with her religious beliefs, and declining to perform it would subject her to removal and potential criminal charges,” he wrote. “Respondents failed to present sufficient evidence that providing an accommodation of Plaintiff’s religious beliefs to the end of her term created an undue burden.”

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Read Devine’s ruling in full here.

The State later withdrew its appeal and entered into a settlement with Myrick. The settlement includes $122,660 in back pay, $50,435 in front pay, and a nearly $37,000 payment to the North Carolina Retirement System. $115,000 will also be paid to cover the fees of Myrick’s attorneys.

“Our country has found ways to honor the consciences of those with differing views on the death penalty, the draft, and abortion. And federal employment anti-discrimination law requires we do the same on marriage too,” the Heritage Foundation said in a statement, as reported by The Daily Signal. “Anything less would be un-American.”

View the settlement here.

1 Peter 5:22 reads, “[N]either be partaker of other men’s sins; keep thyself pure.”

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