US judge who sought reasonable accommodation over gay weddings wins settlement

A Christian judge has been awarded $300,000 by the state of North Carolina, after she was forced to resign because of her views on same-sex marriage.

Gayle Myrick said the introduction of new guidelines in 2014 requiring magistrates to marry same-sex couples contravened her religious beliefs.

Her supervisor had suggested that she be allowed to change her schedule so she would not have to work during wedding ceremonies, but the state Government rejected this accommodation.

Christian conscience

This is despite the fact that a number of other magistrates were often allowed to switch their schedules.

Myrick stressed at the time that performing same-sex marriages would go against her Christian conscience.

“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”.

Forced to resign

An administrative judge ruled last year that North Carolina violated civil rights laws when it forced her to resign.

Judge Michael Devine said the state was obliged under federal law “to provide an accommodation” for her.

Myrick has now been awarded the settlement by the state that includes lost salary and retirement benefits.

‘Landmark victory’

She received legal support in her case from Becket, a religious liberty group.

Speaking for the group, Stephanie Barclay said it was a “landmark victory”.

“This case is about protecting the dignity of everyone in our diverse society.”

Lillian Ladele

In a joint statement in support of Myrick, Ryan T Anderson, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, and lawyer Emilie Kao, said: “The state of North Carolina should not have discriminated against Gayle Myrick for her sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage.

“Accommodating her conscience took nothing away from same-sex couples’ ability to obtain marriage licenses”.

In the UK, Christian registrar Lillian Ladele, who was supported by The Christian Institute, was denied an appeal by the European Court of Human Rights in 2013, over same-sex civil partnerships.

Ladele was forced out of her Islington Council job over her conscientious objection to the partnerships. The court’s decision was described at the time as a “sad day for liberty of conscience”.

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