North Carolina County Magistrates Refuse To Perform Any Marriages Because Of Marriage Equality

Meanwhile, in states that are not Kentucky...

From Newsweek:

"Officials in McDowell County in North Carolina are being forced to ship in magistrates from neighboring Rutherford County after all four of McDowell's magistrate judges recused themselves from performing marriages—gay, straight or otherwise. The magistrates invoked their rights not to perform marriages under the state's religious exemption law, which allows every magistrate 'the right to recuse from performing all lawful marriages...based upon any sincerely held religious objection.'

'Every single one has said they will opt out and won't do the marriages,' Chief District Judge Randy Pool told local television station WLOS. A Rutherford County magistrate told WLOS that he and another magistrate have been driving back and forth three times a week to perform marriages in McDowell. State law requires the county to provide magistrates to perform marriages a minimum of 10 hours per week."

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Passed in May, North Carolina's religious exemption bill allows magistrates to refuse to perform marriages for same-sex couples as long as the same magistrates also agree to abstain from performing any marriages for six months. This now leaves McDowell County in quite a pickle, since all four of its magistrate judges have decided to take this bill up on its offer. 

So now North Carolina's chickens have come home to roost. McDowell County has to scramble to find judges who have not forsworn their duties to fulfill the state-mandated 10-hour per week minimum for marriages, probably costing  the taxpayers extra in terms of transportation and other expenses. Meanwhile, McDowell's four magistrate judges can twiddle their thumbs while drawing down their salaries.

What exactly did the state think would happen when it passed this bill? Did lawmakers just assume that at least one judge per county would continue to do his or her job?  At this point, the answers to these questions don't matter. What does matter is that public servants can legally get out of performing marriages for same-sex couples, and it's the taxpayers who suffer for their behavior.