Charlotte-based law firm Tin Walker Fulton & Owen are representing six plaintiffs who filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday morning, challenging Senate Bill 2, which has given magistrates the right to refuse marriage certificates to same sex couples if they cite a “sincerely held religious objection.”
Ansley V. North Carolina disputes the legality of Senate Bill 2 on the grounds that it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, as well as the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
LGBT advocacy groups Equality North Carolina and the Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE) are supporting the lawsuit and are coordinating a public education campaign around the case.
“Senate Bill 2 seeks to undermine the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling and uses taxpayer funds to promote a single, particular religious viewpoint,” said Meghann Burke, an attorney with Brazil & Burke, PA in Asheville, who helped file the lawsuit, reports The Citizen-Times. Burke is married to the executive director of the CSE, Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara.
“When a magistrate is acting within his or her official capacity, he or she is the government,” Burke went on to say, adding, “Government has no right to establish, promote, or respect a particular religious viewpoint.”
“Senate Bill 2 expressly declares that their religious beliefs are superior to their oath of judicial office to uphold and support the federal constitution. And the law spends public money to advance those religious beliefs. That is a straightforward violation of the First Amendment,” said Luke Largess, a partner at Tin Fulton Walker & Owen and lead counsel in Ansley v. North Carolina, in a release from the CSE.
Ansley is joined by fellow plaintiffs Cathy McGaughey, her wife; Kelley Penn and Sonja Goodman, an engaged couple; and married couple Carol Ann and Thomas Person. Ansley and McGaughey were plaintiffs in the 2014 case that struck down North Carolina’s same sex marriage ban.