Liberty Counsel Files Intervention Request on Lawsuit Against North Carolina Magistrates

Feb 4, 2016

FRANKLIN, NC – Today Liberty Counsel filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit against a North Carolina law that provides a religious accommodation for magistrates who have a conscience objection to officiating or granting marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Attorney General Roy Cooper, who is legally responsible to defend state law, has made public statements against state law SB 2 and has even made vetoing it a part of his campaign platform in his candidacy for governor. Tomorrow is the deadline for the Attorney General to file a defense, and he has not yet done so.

The law (SB 2) states: "Every magistrate has the right to recuse from performing all lawful marriages under this Chapter based upon any sincerely held religious objection." State records indicate that about 30 of the 700 state magistrates have requested this accommodation. Homosexual activists are suing the state because one county, as provided for by law, brings a neighboring magistrate to perform marriage ceremonies. These lobbyists falsely claim that any nominal cost of religious accommodation is a violation of due process and is an establishment of religion. However, both the U.S. Constitution and the North Carolina Constitution require accommodation of individuals' religious beliefs, regardless of their employment status. Liberty Counsel is representing, among others, Judge Brenda Bumgarner, who has an excellent record during her 10 years of service as a magistrate.

"North Carolina is toying with forcing dozens of magistrates into a situation similar to Kim Davis, where they have to choose between following their conscience or face punishment. This illustrates the vitriol of hate toward anyone with an opinion different from the homosexual lobby," said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. "If those who demanded that Kim Davis resign were genuine in their belief, shouldn’t they now be pressuring Attorney General Cooper to resign if he cannot fulfill his legal duty to defend North Carolina law?"

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.