North Carolina will be required to pay a $300,000 settlement to a former official who resigned after being compelled by state law to marry same-sex couples.
Gayle Myrick worked as a Union County magistrate until 2014, when a U.S. District Court judge granted LGBTQ couples in North Carolina the right to wed. Myrick, a practicing Southern Baptist, asked if an accommodation could be made to ensure that she wouldn’t have to perform weddings that violate her religious beliefs and was denied. She resigned as a result.
After filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) last year, a judge ruled that Myrick’s request should have been accommodated under federal employment guidelines.
Myrick reached a settlement with the state in January, the details of which were made available to the public this week. She will be awarded $210,000 in compensation for lost pay and benefits, as well as court costs. An Associated Press report released Wednesday doesn’t detail what the remaining $90,000 comprises.
Judge Michael F. Devine, a Circuit Court judge in Fairfax County, found that Myrick was liable to the above damages because her resignation was involuntary: If she had simply refused to perform same-sex unions, she would have been removed from her post.
Myrick claimed in a statement issued following the ruling that her intention was not to discriminate against LGBTQ people but to find a middle ground.
“I have always wanted to find a way to protect everyone’s dignity,” she said.
The 68-year-old, who lives in lives in Monroe, N.C., told the Washington Post in an interview that she understood that her “religious convictions would not allow [her] to perform those marriages personally.”
Myrick was one of at least six magistrates to resign after North Carolina legalized marriage equality in 2014.
She would later be represented in court by the Becket Fund, a nonprofit legal organization which professes to fight for religious liberty. The D.C.-based firm famously defended Hobby Lobby in a pivotal case over whether employer health care plans are compelled to offer contraceptives to workers.
The settlement was announced just days after a California judge ruled a Christian cakeshop in Bakersfield had the right to deny service to a lesbian couple.
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