51-5.5. Recusal of certain public officials.

(a) Every magistrate has the right to recuse from performing all lawful marriages under this Chapter based upon any sincerely held religious objection. Such recusal shall be upon notice to the chief district court judge and is in effect for at least six months from the time delivered to the chief district court judge. The recusing magistrate may not perform any marriage under this Chapter until the recusal is rescinded in writing. The chief district court judge shall ensure that all individuals issued a marriage license seeking to be married before a magistrate may marry.

(b) Every assistant register of deeds and deputy register of deeds has the right to recuse from issuing all lawful marriage licenses under this Chapter based upon any sincerely held religious objection. Such recusal shall be upon notice to the register of deeds and is in effect for at least six months from the time delivered to the register of deeds. The recusing assistant or deputy register may not issue any marriage license until the recusal is rescinded in writing. The register of deeds shall ensure for all applicants for marriage licenses to be issued a license upon satisfaction of the requirements as set forth in Article 2 of this Chapter.

(c) If, and only if, all magistrates in a jurisdiction have recused under subsection (a) of this section, the chief district court judge shall notify the Administrative Office of the Courts. The Administrative Office of the Courts shall ensure that a magistrate is available in that jurisdiction for performance of marriages for the times required under G.S. 7A-292(b). Only for the duration of the time the Administrative Office of the Courts has not designated a magistrate to perform marriages in that jurisdiction, the chief district court judge or such other district court judge as may be designated by the chief district court judge shall be deemed a magistrate for the purposes of performing marriages under this Chapter.

(d) No magistrate, assistant register of deeds, or deputy register of deeds may be charged or convicted under G.S. 14-230 or G.S. 161-27, or subjected to a disciplinary action, due to a good-faith recusal under this section. (2015-75, s. 1.)