28 North Carolina Magistrates Still Refusing To Perform Same-Sex Marriages

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When it comes to getting married in North Carolina, it can be just as easy as finding a tax-paid judicial magistrates to help couples tie-the-knot. But, if you’re gay, you may need to get out your archaic bigot-finding abacus to narrow down which magistrates prefer the stone age way of thinking that a man and a woman are only allowed to be married or which ones are living in 2019.

Yes, welcome to North Carolina where paid public figures are allowed to forgo 1/3 of their responsibilities if they choose to do so. North Carolina law allows magistrates who have an issue with same-sex marriage to opt out.


A three-month News 13 investigation found 28 magistrates across the state, including one in McDowell County, who continued to recuse themselves from performing gay marriages in 2018. The names of the others remain secret, protected by a North Carolina law that allows them to place their recusal form in a personnel file. It’s a file the public, under North Carolina law, cannot view. – WLOS.com

Apparently magistrates that were filling in for these holier than thou anti-LGBT magistrates were being paid with additional tax payer money in the form of hundreds of dollars in gas reimbursements and were swapping shifts with judges in neighboring counties.

Across North Carolina, out of 670 magistrates, News 13 learned the number of recusing magistrates is four less than the 32 who opted out in 2015, when same-sex marriage first became legal in North Carolina.

Multiple records requests made by News 13 to North Carolina’s Administrative Office of the Court and local counties for names of any recusing magistrates received the same answer — the records were confidential. – WLOS.com

Some magistrates that have worked for 10+ years in that role can make between $50K and $60K per year.  Refusing to perform same-sex weddings may not seem like a big thing and not a large monetary cheat of the system on the magistrates’ part , but under the law, any magistrate who recuses themselves from performing a single same-sex marriage cannot officiate ANY wedding.


In 2015, McDowell County magistrates made national news when all four magistrates recused themselves from performing marriages — gay, straight or otherwise. – WLOS.com

So once again, if a magistrate refuses to perform a same-sex wedding, they cannot perform ANY weddings.  To cover for the recused magistrates of an entire county, other counties had to allocate their magistrates to cover theirs and McDowell County since state law mandates that North Carolina counties must provide magistrates to perform marriage a minimum of 10 hours per week.  Beg borrow and steal to cover for bigotry.

Flash forward to the start of News 13’s investigation in 2019. Of all the magistrates across Western North Carolina, News 13 only found Atkinson, who has worked in the McDowell County office for 12 years, continuing to refuse.

Atkinson’s refusal to perform marriages does not impact his salary under North Carolina’s marriage recusal law. – WLOS.com

Magistrate Thomas Atkinson’s recusal didn’t cause any issues for recent LGBT couples, but did cause a problem for a straight couple in 2018.  They desired to get married in McDowell County, but since Atkinson recused himself from performing a same-sex couple in the past, he could not perform a “straight ceremony”, causing the couple to have to drive 45 minutes to neighboring Burke County to marry.


But now, in 2019, there are records of Atkinson performing three straight marriages. Under the law, Atkinson will now have to marry same-sex couples.

Yes, the News 13 reports did single out Atkinson in their coverage of this issue in the station’s region of the state since that is all they could summarize from their research around the sealed records.  There are others across the state that are recusing themselves, causing the loss of time and money of the tax payers as well as limiting the ability of LGBT citizens to be treated EQUAL to other citizens.  If your using your god as a reason to hate, then you may need a new god or you’re just doing it all wrong. 

Here’s how North Carolina became just the second state after Utah to allow this type of religious exemption for state magistrates who have an issue with same-sex marriage to opt out.

Same-sex marriage has been legally recognized in North Carolina since Oct. 10, 2014. After multiple legal battles, state officials announced that all judges were required to preside at marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples, just as they would for heterosexual couples.

The announcement included direct regulations that judges could not claim an exemption on religious grounds.

In May 2015, legislation that created a religious exemption for state magistrates who objected to participating in same-sex weddings on religious grounds passed but was later vetoed by Gov. Pat McCrory.

On June 3, 2015, the Senate successfully overrode the governor’s veto by a vote of 32-16. On June 11, 2015, an override vote was held in the N.C. House of Representatives, which passed by achieving the three-fifths majority. – WLOS.com



Source: WLOS.com

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