Suit Against NC Marriage Law Has Activists Excited. Should They Be?

Mollie Hemingway explains why not.

To be sure, if North Carolina law were making it illegal for a clergy member to perform what he or she considers to be a marriage ceremony, the violation of religious liberty would be serious cause for concern. In fact, some have worried that Indiana marriage laws could be interpreted in such a fashion as to criminalize religious ceremonies.

But it looks like the statute under question in North Carolina is simply about making authorized officiants follow licensing rules for what the state considers valid marriages. There’s no indication that it actually is illegal to have a ceremony saying two men or two women are married. And, in fact, plaintiffs don’t point to anything the state has done to punish officiants at same-sex ceremonies. For some reason, reporters didn’t bother to ask for substantiation on these points. (See the New York Times, Religion News Service and BuzzFeed.)