That sounds like a #clickbait headline, but it’s not. Both houses of the NC State Legislature have voted to override a veto by Gov. Pat McRory of NC SB2. The bill allows magistrates (county officials who issue marriage licenses) to refuse applicants because they have sincerely held religious beliefs that prevent them from issuing the license.
Now, at face value, that sounds like every other attempt to stop gay marriage we’ve seen over the last twelve months or so, but it’s so much more insidious. Imagine this scenario:
A Catholic couple comes up to a county magistrate’s office with an application for a marriage license.
COUPLE: We’d like a marriage license, please.
MAGISTRATE: Well, now, OK! What religion are you folks?
COUPLE: Roman Catholic
MAGISTRATE: Hmmm…do you believe that man can be saved by his faith in Jesus Christ alone?
COUPLE: No, we believe man can be saved because of his good works, as well as his faith.
MAGISTRATE: I’m sorry, my sincerely held religious believes prevent me from issuing this license.
And, boom! the couple’s dreams of married bliss go up on smoke. Now, the county and state will argue that it’s just one magistrate who is objecting, and that the couple can go find another who doesn’t hold these same sincerely held beliefs. Will that dodge be enough for the five conservative Supremes, who also happen to be Catholic?