No McDowell County magistrates officiating marriages until March | News

No McDowell County magistrates officiating marriages until March


  • Jeremy Lange

Marriage equality is the law of the land, and North Carolina is, officially, the land of the absurd.

On Thursday it was reported that all four magistrates in McDowell County, near Asheville, have recused themselves from performing gay and straight marriages for the next six months. That’s their right under Senate Bill 2, which became state law this summer.

According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, magistrates from neighboring Rutherford County, which shares a judicial district with McDowell, are stepping in for ten hours a week to assist with officiating marriages, because Hilary Hollifield, Thomas Atkinson, Debbie Terrell and Chad Johnson have refused to perform their main job duty under the new religious exemption law.

“The fact that we are having to ship magistrates from county to county to comply with this bill is simply unacceptable,” said Chris Sgro, the executive of Equality North Carolina, the largest LGBT advocacy organization in the state. “This is only costing taxpayers more money and placing additional burdens on Magistrate offices. We warned Senator Berger and the Legislature about the unintended consequences of Senate Bill 2. A few short weeks after becoming law, the people of The Tar Heel State are suffering these consequences.”

Since the state Legislature voted on June 11 to override Gov. McCrory’s veto of the bill, 32 magistrates across North Carolina, out of a total of 670, have refused to perform marriages. Equality North Carolina is looking into the constitutionality of Senate Bill 2 which it says “allows for legal discrimination to occur under North Carolina law.”

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