After gay-marriage rulings, NC senators push bill to exempt some officials because of religion

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RALEIGH, North Carolina — Some North Carolina lawmakers say court officials should be exempt from carrying out duties related to marrying gay couples because of their religious beliefs.

They have introduced a measure in response to federal judges overturning the state's gay-marriage ban in October. A Senate judiciary committee recommended approval Tuesday. The bill allows magistrates to refuse to preside at same-sex weddings. It also allows assistant and deputy registers of deeds to not issue marriage licenses. But it also prohibits them from acting in all civil marriages.

There have been similar actions in other Southern states: Some Florida clerks' offices scrapped all marriage ceremonies rather than perform same-sex unions. In South Carolina and Georgia, legislation is being developed to let individual employees opt out of issuing marriage licenses to gay couples out of sincere religious belief.

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