WILSON, N.C. (WTVD) -- Dozens of pastors and their supporters gathered on the steps of the Wilson County Courthouse Wednesday for a "Religious Freedom Rally." They want magistrates and judges to stand up in the same-sex marriage debate. They're pushing the officials to fight against performing the ceremonies based on religious beliefs.
"We have the obligation to stand up and stand behind these men and woman and their position," said rally organizer Pastor Donnie Price.
"These magistrates and judges that have those positions, [performing same-sex marriages] was not part of their job when they took it. These things are trying to be forced and crammed down on them. We as the people have the right to stand up and say 'No. We don't.' We need to give them freedom of choice."
The ACLU says freedom of choice goes out the window when magistrates and judges take an oath of office.
"They take an oath to serve all of the people. They don't get to pick and choose," said ACLU spokesperson Mike Mena.
Same-sex marriage became legal in North Carolina last month. A federal judge in Asheville struck down the ban. The ruling ignited a flood of same-sex marriages in our state.
The state court system has said any magistrates who refused to perform the marriages are violating their oaths and could face dismissal. A couple of North Carolina magistrates did resign after the ban was overturned citing religious beliefs.
Senate leader Phil Berger has said he plans to introduce legislation that would protect magistrates from performing a same-sex marriage. Berger insists the right is constitutionally protected under freedom of religion.
"It is an uphill battle, but we've got to stand for traditional values," said Price. "We are against people who try and come in and reshape our society into something that traditionally has never been."
There are plans to bring the Religious Freedom rally to other cities in our state. Organizers are finalizing the schedule, but say Raleigh will be one of the next stops.