Letter writer: In same-sex marriage issue, magistrates must treat everyone equally

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I can’t believe people don’t get it: It’s an unconstitutional violation of the separation of church and state and is a violation of the equal protection clause as well.

A magistrate is funded and entitled to perform the services by a/the government. The government must treat everyone equally, therefore this magistrate must treat people equally. He is an employee of the taxpayers, and as such must service all taxpayers and even potential taxpayers equally.

In addition, he has no right to impose his own religious standards on taxpayers: That violates the separation of church and state. Just remember, if you will, all of the craziness around the supposed “plans” to impose Sharia law and outrage and craziness about the imposition of religious law on Americans. This is the same thing: the imposition of a specific religious belief on Americans. It’s unconstitutional!

It doesn’t matter if two magistrates share an office, and one will perform a marriage, and the other won’t on the basis of religious beliefs, because it’s still unconstitutional!

And where will it stop here in the “the Civil War isn’t really over” South? Mixed-race marriages, mixed-religion marriages, mixed-age marriages, Northerners marrying Southerners (the Civil War never really ended after all, and my religion says that [an] abolitionist should never marry a Southerner), or how about the magistrate who thinks that only tall, blond Arians should be able to marry each other? How has that worked out in the past?

— Michael Beech
Asheville

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11 thoughts on “Letter writer: In same-sex marriage issue, magistrates must treat everyone equally

  1. “A magistrate is funded and entitled to perform the services by a/the government.”

    Wrong. A magistrate is required to perform the particular duties assigned to him by the General Assembly in a given period. Specific magistrate duties may change from time to time. Those duty assignments just got changed. If someone wants to get married, and if the magistrate in your jurisdiction is not available, for whatever reason, some one else can perform the marriage as an officer of the court. SB3 even allows county judges to do it. Everyone in North Carolina who wants to get married can get married. The worst case scenario is you might have to wait a minute. My advice: CALL AHEAD.

    “has no right to impose his own religious standards on taxpayers”

    Any magistrate choosing to recuse himself in advance from a set of duties his conscience abhors for a period of a year does not impose any religion on anybody. Any couple eligible for marriage in the state of North Carolina can get married and is not required to adhere to any particular religious belief in order to do so.

    • Jason

      Thanks for your advice, Tim. Here’s my two cents.

      First, your statement that county judges can perform marriages is an true only if all the magistrates in a particular county recuse themselves from performing a marriage. It’s not a mechanism that’s automatically triggered if one of several magistrates refuses to perform the marriage. I also like the caveat you included regarding a magistrate that – “is not available, for whatever reason” – it would seem clear that for most that reason would be their opposition to gay marriage. Why the verbal dance? The period a magistrate must sit-out if they recuse themselves from such a ceremony is also six months, not one year.

      Finally, as for your advice, ” CALL AHEAD.” That sounds brilliant. I can’t wait for the day that I have to pick up the phone and call a government agency before attempting to do business just to get peace of mind and know that the employees I will be dealing with will actually be fulfilling their duties as public servants and not arbitrarily refusing to do so because of “sincerely held” beliefs.

      • “your statement that county judges can perform marriages is an true only if all the magistrates in a particular county recuse themselves from performing a marriage.”

        Yeah. I know. Otherwise, magistrates would perform the service.

        “It’s not a mechanism that’s automatically triggered if one of several magistrates refuses to perform the marriage.”

        I didn’t say it was. I said, ‘SB3 even allows county judges to do it.’ Your expanded comment on the particulars of the law does nothing to refute that. Do you do this thing often?

        “I also like the caveat you included regarding a magistrate that – ‘is not available, for whatever reason’ – it would seem clear that for most that reason would be their opposition to gay marriage.”

        It might be. They also might be sick or on vacation or have a stubbed toe. They also might not be available to do something that they find morally abhorrent. So what? You can still get married. There is no discrimination, no refusal.

        “Why the verbal dance?”

        Why would you perceive one? You’re really quite emotional.

        “The period a magistrate must sit-out if they recuse themselves from such a ceremony is also six months, not one year.”

        OK. Six months. So? It’s still a defined period of time that a recusing magistrate must sit out ALL marriages. And it can be renewed at the end of that defined period of time.

        “Finally, as for your advice, ‘CALL AHEAD.’ That sounds brilliant.”

        Yeah. You’ve never heard of calling ahead to see if you can get something done that’s important? W.O.W. How do you make through the day?

        • Jason

          Hi again, Tim. Just a few follow ups.

          1) It’s SB2 not SB3. For the record.

          2) Aside from referring to the wrong bill you got the length of time a magistrate must sit out if they recuse themselves from performing a ceremony wrong by six months and addressed the inaccuracy by saying – “So?” I have no reply. Just glad you conceded your inaccurate statement.

          3) As for being sick or having a stubbed toe, I suppose that could be true although highly unlikely. Trying to muddy the waters with ridiculous hypotheticals doesn’t bolster your thinly veiled argument.

          Good day, sir.

          • There is nothing thinly veiled about my arguments. Looking for typos and hairsplitting is really weak.

            Anyone who wants to get married in North Carolina, can get married. Sorry if that upsets you.

          • Jason

            My dearest Tim,

            I apologize for being “really weak” in my earlier post by pointing out inaccuracies in some of your statements. My intention was to elevate the conversation by insisting comments contain factually accurate information. Alas, I have failed.

            Therefore, I’ll do like a Republican magistrate and recuse myself from the rest of this debate. Although, to be fair, for all you know I could have stubbed my toe, become suddenly ill or decided to embark on an impromptu vacation. You’ll never know….

            Adios, my friend

          • “for all you know I could have stubbed my toe”

            I know why you’re gone. You lost. You have nothing and you’re embarrassed. Good bye. If, someday, you have a valid point, do stop by again.

            Did I spell that right?

  2. bsummers

    Since same-sex marriage is now the law of the land in North Carolina, instead of allowing government officials to opt out of performing their assigned duties, we should just remind them that they have to right to opt out of being government officials.

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