Six North Carolina residents are challenging a law that allows magistrates to opt out performing civil marriages if it goes against their religious beliefs.
The plaintiffs, who filed the complaint Wednesday and include both LGBT and interracial couples, argue the magistrates law uses taxpayer dollars for religious reasons and therefore violates the First Amendment.
Charlotte-based lawyer Luke Largess, one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, said when all of the magistrates in McDowell County opted out of performing marriages, the state paid to bring another magistrate in from a neighboring town.
“That’s spending public money to advance a religious purpose,” he said.
The N.C. General Assembly passed the magistrates bill on May 28, claiming religious freedom. And the N.C. House of Representatives joined the N.C. Senate June 11 in overriding Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto, making it law.