Raleigh, N.C. — Religion took center stage at the legislature on Wednesday, with debates over same-sex marriage, abortion and hunting on Sundays.
The House gave preliminary approval to a bill that would allow magistrates who oppose same-sex marriage to opt out of presiding over all weddings for at least six months. Backers said accommodating the magistrates supports religious freedom, but opponents contend it codifies discrimination and could lead to other state employees picking which duties they want to perform and which they want to skip.
In the Senate, a bill that would extend the waiting period for an abortion from 24 to 72 hours and revised to include various provisions dealing with sex offenders and domestic violence victims. Democrats cried foul, saying that Republicans were putting them in the position of voting for the abortion waiting period or against the criminal law provisions.
The bill passed a committee and is headed to the Senate floor.
A separate Senate committee revamped a bill on Sunday hunting, limiting the use of rifles and shotguns to Sunday afternoons, and that bill also is headed to a floor vote. Some argued that Sunday should remain off-limits to hunting as the Sabbath, while others said families could spend the weekend hunting together.