Controversial ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill Dead In NC House

Apr 23, 2015

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Republican leaders in the state House say they do not plan to consider North Carolina’s version of a religious freedom law that has been controversial in other parts of the country.

On Thursday afternoon, House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) told reporters that he will not give the measure consideration because it falls outside of his goals of creating a business-friendly environment that will attract jobs to North Carolina. Businesses, including IBM, have said they oppose the measure.

“Right now, it’s not going anywhere,” said House Majority Leader Mike Hager (R-Burke).

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act makes it illegal for the government to keep a person from following his or her religious beliefs. Supporters say it would extend people – or businesses or associations – a guarantee of religious liberties. Gay rights organizations say it would legalize discrimination against homosexuals.

The measure, similar to one passed into law in Indiana earlier this year, has been the source of contention between social conservatives and gay rights activists – and between Republican leaders in the House and in the Senate.

For Speaker Moore, the measure is a low priority as he focuses attention on job development incentives. For Senate Leader Phil Berger, social issues have been a higher priority. A proposal he introduced this session, Senate Bill 2, which has been approved in the chamber, would allow magistrates to recuse themselves from officiating marriages if they oppose same-sex unions on religious grounds.

In a statement, Berger said Senate Republicans are committed to ensuring people’s ability to practice their sincerely held religious beliefs. 

"Senate Republicans are carefully assessing whether the constitution provides appropriate protections to religious liberty or if additional action is necessary," Berger said.