COUNTDOWN TO EQUALITY

Next State To Turn Away The Gays: North Carolina

north-carolina-flagNorth Carolina’s close to passing a bill that would allow state officials to refuse to serve gay couples. Governor Pat McCrory vetoed the bill two weeks ago, but last week the Senate overrode his veto. The House could do the same any day now, which would present a huge problem — not just for gay couples, but for everyone.

This law essentially allows state employees to disregard their oath of office, and choose which citizens they do and don’t want to serve. And it doesn’t just apply to LGBTs — straight couples, divorced couples, interracial or interfaith couples could all be denied access to public services. That’s because antigay legislators know that they’re not allowed to single out LGBTs for discrimination. So what they’ve done written a law that just makes everyone’s life unpleasant, which is both clever and a real pain in the neck.

Couples in Texas could be looking at similar problems. State officials there are pointing fingers to explain why they might refuse to issue licenses even if the Supreme Court orders them to. According to local officials, they can’t issue licenses until they get updated forms from the state. State officials say they’re waiting for the Attorney General. And Attorney General Ken Paxton refuses to say if he’d obey a Supreme Court ruling requiring marriage equality. All of this could leave gay couples unable to marry, with nobody in Texas taking responsibility.

Meanwhile, Alabama legislators have failed to pass a bill that would take the state out of the marriage business. The law would have stopped the state from issuing licenses to any couple, gay or straight. But legislators voted it down by an overwhelming margin in committee, which means it’s off the table. For now.

Marriage equality starts this week in Guam, after a few weeks of arguing about whether or not a ruling from a US District Court requires the territory to issue licenses. It turns out that it does. Also last week Judge Roy Moore gave an interview in which he said that marriage equality will “destroy our country.” Moore, who currently faces an ethics complaint by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama. For now.