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NC Judges Resign Over Same-Sex Marriage

Same sex marriageSix county magistrates in the state of North Carolina have resigned rather than officiate over same-sex "marriages".

According to the New American, six judges have chosen to resign rather than be forced to violate their religious conscience and "marry" same-sex couples. The resignations are coming in the wake of an October 10 federal court ruling that declared the voter-passed amendment to the state's constitution, recognizing marriage as being between one man and one woman, to be unconstitutional.

One of the six judges to quit was Gilbert Breedlove, a Baptist pastor and full-time judge who had been in office for 24 years when the unions became legal in the state.

"I had no choice but to resign. I couldn't in good conscience (officiate at a same-sex wedding) and still hold my head up as a pastor and preacher of the Word of God," Breedlove, 57, told Aleteia.

"I became a magistrate in December 1990. On Dec. 1, it would have been 24 years for me. Resigning now cuts my retirement by 20 percent. I needed four years to max out my pension. I've applied for retirement, and I qualify for 75 percent, so I'm just going to trust in the Lord and see where He leads."

Breedlove's resignation followed closely on the heels of Rockingham County Magistrate John Kallam, Jr. who was the first to quit, saying that being forced to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies “would desecrate a holy institution established by God Himself.”

Bill Stevenson, who served as magistrate for Gaston County, said he refused to be compelled to violate his moral convictions for the sake of the court ruling.

“It was something I had to do out of conscience,” Bill Stevenson said of his resignation. “I felt like to perform same sex unions would be in violation of the Lord’s commands, so I couldn’t do that.”

He added:  “I hate to wax so biblical, but it says 'What good is it for a man to gain the whole world but lose his own soul?' so that’s the stakes I put on this.”

Union County magistrate Gayle Myrick told a local newspaper that “for me to do what the state said I had to do, under penalty of law, I would have to go against my convictions, and I was not willing to do that. I want to honor what the Word says.”

Graham County magistrate Tommy Holland knew he would have to resign the moment he heard the court ruling.

“When the federal judge ruled that gay marriage was legal and North Carolina honors that, and part of a magistrate's job is to perform marriage ceremonies, I knew I couldn't honor that law,” Holland told the Christian Examiner.  “It's against my belief. It's against what the Bible says.... I was raised a Southern Baptist. God has always taken care of me.”

All of these judges are incurring steep financial losses by stepping down, a situation that could have been avoided had the court granted protection to state officials who could not perform these marriages because of their religious beliefs.

North Carolina State Senator Phil Berger made such a request of the court, but it was denied.

Rick McDermott, of the gay activist group Equality NC, says "While we understand people have their own religious beliefs, we don't think this is about religious discrimination. It's really more so about the magistrates doing their job and following the law.”

And if those laws are crafted in such a way that strips believers of the right to practice their faith, then Christians will continue to suffer.

Breedlove believes the pressure on Christians who oppose same-sex marriage will only continue to grow in the years to come.

"I expect the pressure will come full circle," he said. "Obviously, the next challenge is they're going to work on attacking our freedoms of speech, and our right to preach against sin, including homosexuality. I believe that's the next step in America now that they have gay marriage. They will push for special protections under the law and get new hate laws passed."

Is he concerned about what the future will hold?

"I'm trusting in the Lord," he said, "and I know that He will take care of us."

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