Pat Mc Crory’s veto of a startling bill that would allow magistrates to refuse to marry any couple—so long as they have a “sincerely held religious objection.”* The bill will now go to the state house, where conservative legislators have probably rounded up the votes to push beyond Mc Crory’s veto.
Should these legislators succeed, they will have passed one of the most far-reaching and dangerous pieces of discriminatory legislation in recent memory.
Perhaps the most interesting issue here, and the one of greatest practical import, concerns subdivision (b)(6), which encompasses “persons of the opposite sex who are in a dating relationship or have been in a dating relationship.” I can imagine a constitutional challenge to that provision on the grounds that there is no basis for limiting it to opposite-sex couples.
If such a challenge were successful, I don’t know whether the remedy would be a judicial expansion of the rule or an excision of the rule from the statute.
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In an obvious effort to avoid seeing the law struck down as unconstitutional anti-gay discrimination, the North Carolina legislature couched their bill in the broadest terms possible.
A magistrate isn’t just empowered to turn away same-sex couples—he can turn away couple, so long as he can articulate a religious objection to their marriage.
But the issue I’ve been asked most about is how same-sex marriage relates to our domestic violence laws. The statute applies mainly to certain crimes committed against a “spouse or former spouse or a person with whom the defendant lives or has lived as if married.” I noted in this prior post the uncertainty about whether same-sex couples were covered by that language. A same-sex couple married in North Carolina or elsewhere are “spouse[s],” or if subsequently divorced, “former spouse[s].” Same-sex couples who are cohabiting are living together as if married. More complicated interpretive and legal issues arise in the context of Chapter 50B orders. The list includes “current or former spouses,” and the new meaning of that term is clear.“Over the past years, Cirque du Soleil has had shows in various countries such as United Arab Emirates,” the Cirque du Solei Web site reads.On Friday, the entertainment group blasted North Carolina politicians over passage of the state’s Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, which states that individuals can use only bathrooms that correspond to the biological sex that appears on their birth certificates.Same sex marriage has been permitted in North Carolina for a couple of weeks.Shea blogged here about one potential criminal law implication: the possibility, discussed in a memorandum from the Administrative Office of the Courts, that magistrates could be charged criminally for refusing to marry same-sex couples.