North Carolina's Governor Just Picked a Side in the Debate Over 'Religious Freedom' Laws

| MAR 30, 2015 | 9:08 PM
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On the heels of the controversy surrounding Gov. Mike Pence’s signing of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act comes news that North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, also a Republican, is questioning his state legislature’s push for similar “religious freedom” laws.

In an interview today with Charlotte-based public radio station and NPR affiliate WFAE, Gov. McCrory told host Mike Collins that he and Republican leaders in both houses of the GOP-led North Carolina General Assembly are at odds over whether there's a need for such legislation in the state, whether it be narrow or broad:

Gov. Pat McCrory told a Charlotte radio host Monday that he opposes a bill that would allow magistrates to opt out of performing weddings and didn't see the need for a broader religious freedom bill.

“What is the problem they're trying to solve?” McCrory asked during Monday's broadcast of WFAE's Charlotte Talks program.


“At this time, I would not sign it the way it's written because ... I don't think you should have an exemption or a carve-out when you swore an oath to the constitution of North Carolina or to the Constitution of the United States of America,” McCrory said.

North Carolina’s version of the Indiana bill was introduced last Tuesday by Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam (R-Apex). It’s not clear if McCrory had read the proposed legislation, but in the same WFAE interview he indicated a belief that such laws were unnecessary:

McCrory told WFAE that many of the policies expressed in religious freedom bills “make no sense.” It was unclear from the conversation whether McCrory would veto such a religious freedom bill, but it was clear he did not think the measure was needed.

McCrory was a 7-term mayor of the city of Charlotte, a Democrat stronghold in North Carolina. Some political strategists and local columnists have suggested that in recent public disagreements with the more conservative wing of the state legislature, the Governor may be distancing himself to set the stage for the launch of his 2016 re-election campaign.

As for “religious freedom” laws, there are 20 states – including Indiana – that have legislation in place that's similar to the federal RFRA, which was signed into law by Democrat President Bill Clinton with bi-partisan support in 1993. Thirteen other states are considering similar legislation.

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