RICHMOND, Va. – The Latest on a federal appeals court's consideration of a challenge to a North Carolina law allowing magistrates with religious objections to refuse to perform same-sex marriages (all times local):
An attorney for North Carolina says a state law letting magistrates refuse to perform same-sex marriages ensures the state complies with the law on gay marriage while respecting officials' religious beliefs.
Special Deputy Attorney General Olga Vysotskaya de Brito defended the law Wednesday before a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. She said North Carolina lawmakers worked hard to strike a fair balance.
At issue is whether the couples seeking to challenge the law have legal standing to do so.
Attorney Luke Largess said the spending of taxpayer dollars to bring willing magistrates into a county to perform same-sex marriages gives the couples the right to sue.
Two judges suggested that while they may have concerns with the policy, they're skeptical whether the couples have legal standing to challenge it.
A federal appeals court will consider whether three North Carolina couples have legal standing to challenge a law allowing magistrates with religious objections to refuse to perform same-sex marriages.
The couples want the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, to revive the lawsuit because they say the state is spending tax dollars to accommodate magistrates' religious views. The couples argue those expenditures give them the right to sue, despite a district court ruling to the contrary. Oral arguments are scheduled for Wednesday.
Lawyers from the North Carolina Attorney General's office argue in legal filings that SB2 isn't a true spending program, and it doesn't require substantial outlays of tax money.
Further, they say the law is consistent with the government's obligation not to interfere with the religious beliefs of state workers.