Magistrate Gets $300K Over Refusal to Perform Same-Sex Marriages

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took up her case

The State of North Carolina is ordered to pay a legal settlement amounting to $300,000 to Gayle Myrick, a former magistrate . The latter was forced to resign as her religious beliefs stopped her from enabling gay couples to get formally married. The amount is inclusive of $210,000 lost pay along with retirement benefits. Fees paid to attorneys are included as well. The settlement was awarded in the last week of January.

Gayle Myrick was a 64-year-old magistrate in 2014. The federal courts at that time gave the ruling that same-sex couples have all the legal backing to get legally married in North Carolina. In an interview with The Washington Post, Myrick said that for her, marrying couples of the same-sex was never an option. However, she also did not want any couple to stop legally getting married -and for this, Gayle's then-supervisor latched on to the idea which involved a slight shifting of Myrick's work schedule. She was moved to a time when marriage ceremonies were not performed. The state, however, did not agree to such an arrangement. She was compelled to submit her resignation in 2014.

Myrick subsequently approached Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and filed a discrimination complaint. She won the case. Stephanie Barclay, her counsel at Becket which represented Myrick, said that it will not be possible for the states to draw comparisons between the religious convictions of the people and LGBTQ individuals' dignity. Becket is the not-for-profit law firm specializing in religious liberty law. According to Barclay, this ruling meant that if reasonable solutions are not found by state, then they should be prepared for paying off settlements. It is to be noted that such a ruling comes before the Supreme Court of the United States takes a decision on Masterpiece Cakeshop case. Barclay has noted that although the nature of the two cases could be different, both of them are linked to the dignity of the opposing sides.

For North Carolina State, 2014 and 2015 were notable years. A magistrate in the state refused to legally marry a same-sex couple who were together for about 30 years. The former cited religious beliefs for the refusal. North Carolina GOP then gave their assent to a bill which permitted magistrates the power to refuse the marriage of LGBTQ couples, based on religious beliefs.

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