North Carolina Judge Rules State Cannot Force Magistrates to Resign for Belief in Traditional Marriage

A landmark federal ruling, finalized recently, says that the State of North Carolina violated civil rights laws when it forced a magistrate to resign because of her beliefs about marriage.

The ruling in Myrick v. EEOC shows that faith and LGBT rights don’t have to be at odds with each other. Reasonable solutions can be found to protect the dignity of each person. This case also resulted in a significant settlement agreement, in which the State agreed to pay the magistrate her salary and retirements benefits that were unjustly taken away. You can watch her story here.

Gayle Myrick was a highly qualified and well-respected magistrate in North Carolina for many years who was forced to resign because of her religious beliefs. When same-sex marriage became legal, she didn’t want to stop any couple from getting married, but she also knew that her religious beliefs prevented her from performing a same-sex wedding ceremony.

Since performing weddings was a small part of her work, Gayle’s immediate supervisor proposed a solution: shift Gayle’s schedule by a couple hours so she wasn’t working when marriage ceremonies were performed. However, the state government rejected this reasonable solution and forced Gayle to resign.

“I have always wanted to find a way to protect everyone’s dignity,” says Myrick, the magistrate at the center of the case. “The solution in my case would allow any couple to get lawfully married without facing rejection or delay, and magistrates with religious beliefs like me could step aside and still keep our jobs.”

Other magistrates routinely shifted their schedules for a variety of reasons—from simple things like fishing trips to substantial issues like night classes or drug rehab. If Myrick had asked to shift her schedule for any other reason, she would have been allowed to keep her job. But because her request was motivated by her religious beliefs, she was forced to resign just two months before her retirement benefits vested.

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SOURCE: Charisma, Kevin McVicker