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Equal Protection

The ACLU fights to ensure equal protection of the laws for everyone. This means that laws must apply equally to all without prejudice or discrimination. “Equal protection” cases therefore cover a huge spectrum of issues, from the rights of women, the LGBT community, and immigrants, to the rights of people of color, students and people with disabilities.

RALEIGH – Today North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory announced plans to veto Senate Bill 2, a discriminatory measure that would allow sworn government officials to deny marriage services to legally eligible couples if the officials cite a deeply held religious objection.

“We applaud Governor McCrory for pledging to veto this discriminatory measure, and we urge the General Assembly to keep government services open for all North Carolinians by sustaining the governor’s veto,” said Sarah Preston, acting Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina. “Senate Bill 2 is a transparent attempt to deny gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry, but it is so broadly written that it would also allow court officers to deny services to interracial couples, interfaith couples, and others. No couple should have to spend their wedding day rushing from one courthouse to another trying to prove they meet the religious criteria of a magistrate just to get a marriage license. This happy day should be spent with friends, family and loved ones - not in a maze of government offices.”

McCrory announced his decision in a news release today after voicing concerns about the measure in March.  

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RALEIGH and CHARLOTTE - The ACLU of North Carolina joined Equality NC, the Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, business owners, and faith leaders in Raleigh and Charlotte today to deliver more than 10,000 signatures urging Gov. Pat McCrory to veto proposed "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" bills in North Carolina.

The Indiana-style proposals, Senate Bill 550 and House Bill 348, would allow people and businesses to bypass any laws they choose and to discriminate in the name of religious freedom, opening the door to discrimination against LGBT people and others. In recent weeks, major companies such as IBM, American Airlines, and Red Hat have voiced strong opposition to the bills as bad for business. Gov. McCrory has previously said the proposal "makes no sense" and is unnecessary, but has not promised the veto the bills if they are approved by the legislature.

North Carolina's bills go much further than allowing businesses to turn away gay people. They could open the floodgates for a landlord to evict a hardworking single mother, a doctor to deny care to the child of a same-sex couple, or a judge to pardon an abuser instead of protecting a domestic violence survivor – all under the guise of religious freedom.

Don’t let North Carolina make Indiana’s mistake. Legislators know that bills like this are bad for business. And ACLU supporters helped stop similar bills in Nevada, Montana, and Georgia by taking action.

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Across the nation, opponents of equality have been pushing harmful measures that would allow individuals to use their religious beliefs as an excuse to harm others and discriminate. Last week, North Carolina became the latest state to consider such a dangerous proposal.

The "North Carolina Religious Freedom Restoration Act" (House Bill 348) would allow individuals to use their religious beliefs to discriminate against others, such as giving businesses the ability to deny services to LGBT North Carolinians and others.

Please take action today to ask your House representative to oppose HB 348!

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RALEIGH – Almost 40 years after two Forsyth County magistrates refused to perform their civil marriage ceremony by citing religious objections, Thomas and Carol Ann Person, an interracial couple from North Carolina, are now speaking out against proposed legislation that would allow magistrates to refuse marriage services to any couple if they voice a religious objection.

Senate Bill 2, which is scheduled to be heard by the House Judiciary I committee today, would allow sworn government officials to refuse to provide marriage services to couples based on what the bill calls “sincerely held religious” beliefs.

“Nobody has a right to tell anyone who they can marry,” said Carol Ann. “I will never forget how painful it was to be told by government officials that they would not give Thomas and me a civil marriage ceremony because of the color of our skin. It was supposed to be a happy day, but instead we were turned away because of somebody else’s religious views and treated like second-class citizens. I hope those lawmakers in Raleigh stop Senate Bill 2 so that no other couple in North Carolina ever has to go through what we did when they want to marry the person they love.”

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RALEIGH – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina is urging lawmakers to reject a bill that would allow magistrates and other government officials to opt out of providing marriage services to the public for six-month periods based on “sincerely held religious” objections.

SB 2 is scheduled for a committee hearing on Tuesday, February 24, at 10 a.m. in room 1124/1224 LB at the General Assembly in Raleigh.

“Religious freedom is one of our most valued liberties, but it should never be used as an excuse to deny government services to those who qualify simply because of who they love,” said Sarah Preston, policy director for the ACLU of North Carolina. “This bill is clearly designed to deny gay and lesbian couples their legal right to marry, but it would also make it harder for all North Carolina couples, especially those living in smaller counties, to access their right to be married under the law. We urge lawmakers to reject this bill and ensure that government services in North Carolina remain open to all on equal terms.”

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