Friday, March 6, 2015

Sharia law: North Carolina Republicans empower magistrates to refuse to marry blacks, Jews, gays

From Daily Kos:

Mon Mar 02, 2015

North Carolina Republicans' latest wedge issue gambit, Senate Bill 2 (An Act to Allow Magistrates [...] to Recuse Themselves From Performing Duties Related to Marriage Ceremonies Due to Sincerely Held Religious Objection), passed the state Senate Wednesday on a near party-line vote (Democratic senators Clark and Ford joining 30 Republicans voting aye, and Republicans Alexander and Tarte voting no with 14 Dems). Passage in the House, and signing by Governor Pat McCrory (R), are widely expected to follow shortly.

In North Carolina, civil weddings are performed by county magistrates - bottom-rung appointed officers of the court whose other duties include such mundane tasks as hearing misdemeanor cases, presiding in small claims court, administering oaths, setting bail, accepting guilty pleas, and issuing subpoenas. These are undemanding but good-paying jobs (requiring no post-secondary education, and paying as much as $57,000).

When a Federal court decision made same-sex marriage legal in North Carolina last October, eight NC county magistrates resigned their positions rather than face the prospect of violating their religious beliefs by marrying same-sex couples. It should be easy enough for reasonable people across the political spectrum to agree that those resignations were the right thing to do. If you cannot reconcile your personal beliefs with your job duties, you need to find a different job. An orthodox Jew working at an oyster bar, a Sikh in a slaughterhouse, a Quaker in the Marines, a Catholic in a Planned Parenthood clinic - clearly none have a right to expect their employers to accommodate their sincerely held religious objections, and so all need to re-evaluate their career options. It's no different for civil servants, nor should it be.
Rather than allow such an obvious solution to suffice, Republicans are rushing to turn the issue into a social conservative rallying point in the run-up to the 2016 elections in North Carolina (a state where voters' opinions are evenly divided, with 44% approving of same sex marriage and 47% disapproving, with a 3% margin of error).

Phil Berger (R), president pro tem of the state senate and SB2's primary sponsor, casts his argument for the bill in First Amendment terms:

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