John M. Becker

Two NC Magistrates Resign Rather Than Marry Gay Couples

Filed By John M. Becker | October 17, 2014 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Christianists, gay marriage, marriage equality, North Carolina, persecution complex, privilege tantrums, religious freedom, religious liberty, same-sex marriage, special rights

Church-and-State.jpegIn the new marriage equality state of North Carolina, at least two magistrates -- agents of the state whose responsibilities include performing civil marriages -- have resigned rather than comply with the law and perform marriages for same-sex couples. Neither one is the official who illegally turned away a gay couple in Pasquotank County earlier this week.

This news comes just one day after the state told magistrates, in no uncertain terms, that they had to perform the marriages or they'd be suspended or dismissed from their jobs.

In a letter to Chief District Court Judge Fred Wilkins, Rockingham County Magistrate John Kallam Jr. tendered his resignation, effective October 31. Kallam wrote that marrying same-sex couples "desecrate[s] a holy institution" and violates his religious beliefs, according to the Greensboro News & Record:

"When I took my oath of office, I understood I would be required to perform weddings and have done so throughout my tenure," Kallam said in an emailed resignation letter. "I did not, however, take that oath with any understanding that I would be required to marry same sex couples. It is my personal belief and a position of my Christian faith that doing so would desecrate a holy institution established by God himself."

Calling Kallam a "good honorable man... who stuck by his convictions," Wilkins confirmed the resignation. But he added that had Kallam refused to marry a same-sex couple, he would have followed protocol and suspended him.

Details about the second resignation are after the break.

QNotes, North Carolina's leading LGBT community newspaper, reports:

Another magistrate in North Carolina has resigned in protest of North Carolina's legal same-gender marriage recognition.

Swain County Magistrate Gilbert Breedlove's resignation -- effective Monday -- comes a day after a magistrate in Rockingham County resigned. Both are citing their religious beliefs, saying they cannot marry same-gender couples.

"I know what the Bible says and I know that it's not right," Breedlove has said.

According to the Greensboro News & Record, some magistrates in Alamance County have also refused to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples, but have not resigned.

quit_squirming.jpgBut Equality NC executive director Chris Sgro notes that these magistrates who assert a special right to disobey the law and discriminate are in a distinct minority. More than 400 marriage licenses have been issued in 60 counties so far, he says, and marriages have been taking place.

"This isn't a problem everywhere," Sgro told the Winston-Salem Journal. "These are a few isolated instances."

You may not expect me to say this, but I'm not going to condemn Breedlove, Kallam, or any other anti-gay magistrate who chooses to resign rather than assert some bogus, non-existent special "right" to homophobic discrimination. In fact, I applaud them.

If their anti-LGBT animus is so severe that they can no longer bring themselves to carry out their official public duties by serving same-sex couples, then resigning is exactly what they must do.

Cartoon by artist Mike Ritter of the GA Voice.

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