Under the Dome

House hears from public on marriage opt-out bill

Members of a House committee took their first look Wednesday at the Senate proposal to allow magistrates and registers of deeds to refuse to perform civil marriage ceremonies of gay couples.

The Senate quickly passed Senate Bill 2 last week and sent it to the House, where a judiciary committee heard from the public. The committee members will meet again to discuss the legislation among themselves and vote on it, chairman Rep. Leo Daughtry, a Republican from Smithfield, announced.

Nine people – mostly those opposed to the bill – recited its pros and cons.

Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said it allows magistrates and deeds registers to practice their religious beliefs and opt out if they think gay marriage is wrong.

Tony Cope, owner of a media production company with offices in Raleigh, New York City and Vancouver, said he is having a hard time recruiting some of the employees he wants because they think legislative efforts such as this give the impression that North Carolina is intolerant.

Wayne Rash, Caldwell County’s register of deeds, said the N.C. Association of Registers of Deeds is not taking a position on the bill, but has serious concerns about how smaller counties with small staffs would be affected.