Legislators in North Carolina are pushing a bill that would allow magistrates to refuse to marry couples on religious grounds. This touched a nerve for one couple who, in 1976, had been previously denied a marriage license on the grounds of magistrates’ religious beliefs. In The News & Observer, Carol Ann Person explains:
“So why wouldn’t he marry us? The reason, it turned out, was because Thomas is African-American, and I am white. The magistrate told us that marrying an interracial couple went against his religious beliefs. Our happy day quickly turned into a nightmare.
“I was so surprised that a government official was using his own personal religious beliefs to deny us a civil marriage license that I didn’t know what to say. There was a second magistrate on duty, but he, too, said he wouldn’t marry us, because doing so would violate his religious beliefs. One of them took out a Bible and began to lecture us about their religious views and why Thomas and I should not be together…”
With the way Senate Bill 2 is written, it potentially opens the door once again to the denial of marriages because of religious objections to interracial marriage. But beyond that, Person writes so that “no other couple in North Carolina ever has to go through what we did when they want to marry the person they love…”
ThinkProgress relates how a church helped bring same-sex marriage to North Carolina. Yes, you read that right:
“But the debate over Amendment 1 in North Carolina also saw a notable uptick in activism from a very different group: Progressive people of faith who support marriage equality. In the lead up to the vote, more than 200 clergy from Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and High Point collectively condemned the proposed marriage ban through a series of proclamations and votes, and College Park Baptist Church of Greensboro passed a formal resolution affirming equality for all and condemning the measure as an example of “prejudice and discrimination…”