At least six judges in North Carolina have stepped down from their positions saying that conducting same-sex wedding ceremonies would contravene their religious beliefs.
The judges, who are all professing Christians, resigned after the introduction of new guidelines which require magistrates to marry same-sex couples.
Same-sex marriage was legalised in North Carolina after the US Supreme Court cleared the path for the practice to become legal in more states.
Judge Bill Stevenson is the latest magistrate to step down after marriage was redefined in North Carolina last month.
Stevenson told NBC news: “It was something I had to do out of conscience.
“I felt like to perform same-sex unions would be in violation of the Lord’s commands, so I couldn’t do that.”
Gayle Myrick, another judge, also stressed that performing same-sex marriages would go against her Christian conscience.
She said: “I believe that marriage was ordained by God to be between a man and a woman.
“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 honour what the Word says”.
Other Christian judges who have not resigned have indicated that they will refuse to conduct same-sex marriages even if it leads to their dismissal.
Republican state senator for North Carolina, Phil Berger, alongside 27 other Republicans, has asked for protection for state officials who refuse to conduct gay marriages.
Supporters of gay marriage claim that this is about magistrates “doing their job”.
The magistrates’ resignation will cost them more than $50,000 a year in income. They say they are “waiting on God” to give them direction for this next phase of their lives.
Last year, in the UK, a Christian registrar who claimed religious discrimination was denied an appeal by the European Court of Human Rights, in a move described as a “sad day for liberty of conscience”.
The Christian Institute supported Lillian Ladele, who was forced out of her Islington Council job over her conscientious objection to same-sex civil partnerships.