Judges quit, say no to same-sex marriages

by Karen L. Willoughby, |
Union County Courthouse in Monroe, North Carolina, was built in 1886 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

NORTH CAROLINA (Christian Examiner) – Six North Carolina magistrates—a judicial officer of the District Court who handles certain criminal and civil matters—have resigned rather than violate their Christian convictions by performing same-sex marriage ceremonies.

About 670 magistrates serve in North Carolina, and by resigning the six give up a comfortable income, as well as standing in the community. 

"I believe marriage was ordained by God to be between a man and a woman," said Gayle Myrick, magistrate in Union County, N.C. told the Christian Examiner. "For me to do what the state said I had to do, under penalty of law, I would have to go against my convictions, and I was not willing to do that. I want to honor what the Word says."

In addition to Myrick, the magistrates who resigned because of their Christian convictions are Gilbert Breedlove of Swain County; Bill Stevenson of Gaston County; Tommy Holland of Graham County; Jeff Powell of Jackson County; and John Kallam Jr. of Rockingham County.

Regarding next steps, all six say they are waiting on God to provide direction.

Same-sex marriages became legal in North Carolina on Oct. 10. That's when the state's ban on gay marriages was declared unconstitutional. North Carolina voters in 2012 had passed a state constitutional ban on gay marriages. That ban and an existing state law restricting marriage to the joining of one man with one woman were overturned after two federal judges said both were illegal under an earlier gay marriage ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va.

The Fourth Court of Appeals is one of nine in 13 U.S. Courts of Appeal that is empaneled with a majority of Democrat appointees. Six of the 15 judges are appointees of President Obama, and another four were named by President Clinton.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory said all state agencies would comply with the federal decision. State Senator Phil Berger asked the Courts to grant protections to officials who refused for religious reasons to perform same-sex ceremonies, but the request was denied.

Magistrates received a letter from Judge John Smith, director of the Administrative Office of the Courts reiterating the need to uphold the law, under penalty of law.

"I prayed about it; I asked for wisdom," Stevenson told the Christian Examiner. "I think our hearts have been led away by the cares of the world, our desires, and ultimately, our intense arrogance – our hubris – against the Lord.

"We've rejected the prime authority of the scriptures, something our Nation's Founding Fathers, such as John Adams, knew better than to do. ... In both the Old and New Testaments, homosexuality is something the Lord does not approve of, and since He doesn't, I could not put the sanction of the state on a relationship that runs afoul of scripture."

God defines marriage in the Bible's second chapter of Genesis as between a man and a woman, Stevenson said.

"When the federal judges ruled that gay marriage was legal and North Carolina honors that, and part of a magistrate's job is to perform marriage ceremonies, I knew I couldn't honor that law," Holland said. "It's against my belief. It's against what the Bible says."

He resigned because he realized he could no longer do the job he was hired 24 years previously to do, Holland told the Christian Examiner. He doesn't know what his future holds, but "I was raised Southern Baptist. God has always taken care of me."

The six magistrates include four Southern Baptists, one Missionary Baptist and one Wesleyan.

The decision to resign came quickly to Breedlove and the other five magistrates. Not that it was easy. Each gave up the means for providing for their families, but also the satisfaction of knowing they were doing something good for society, the personal and professional relationships they'd built over time, and status.

"None of that matters when it goes against the Word of God specifically," Breedlove said. "The Lord did so much for us and He requires His people to stand on His Word, and live in faith, and that's what we're doing.

"I'm just standing in faith to declare this is what the Lord has said," Breedlove continued. It's my way of honoring God."

Each of the six wanted it known they had no animosity, no ill will, toward people who live in a homosexual lifestyle. "I'm just standing in faith to declare this is what the Lord has said. If they object, that's fine; it's between them and God," Breedlove told the Christian Examiner.

"I think one of the things we've lost as Christians is an understanding of the correct view of the moral commandments of the Lord, and how keeping them – by His grace – is required to demonstrate our love for Him," Stevenson said, referencing Matthew 5:17-20, John chapter 14 and 1 John 5:3.

"The concern I have is that America just needs to repent of many sins, not just this sin. 'My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge,'" Stevenson quoted from Hosea 4:6. "If we don't know what the scriptures define as sin, how can we turn away from it?"

Christians need to know what God's word says, and to do what God says, Breedlove said. "I encourage Christians to stand on their faith and stand for what God's word says. They will be standing on the truth, which will be displayed in their lives to the world."

About people in a homosexual lifestyle, Breedlove said, "I can pray that God burden their hearts to change their lives. I think God can change any sinner. God has the power. He's God!"