May 28, 12:23 PM EDT

N. Carolina lawmakers OK giving officials option to decline to perform gay marriage duties



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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina legislators have agreed to give some court officials the option to refuse to carry out same-sex marriage duties based on religious objections.

The House gave final approval to the Senate measure Thursday. The bill now goes to Gov. Pat McCrory, who has expressed concerns over giving exemptions to people who take government oaths. McCrory could veto the measure.

Utah is the only other state that's approved such an exemption.

The North Carolina law would apply to magistrates and some registers of deeds employees. They would have to stop performing duties for both gay and heterosexual couples. Elected court officials would fill for marriages if needed.

Opponents said the measure essentially creates discrimination, but supporters say government workers should not be fired for their religious beliefs.

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