John Kallam, Jr.
Rockingham County Court House: Wentworth, North Carolina
On October 16, 2014, Rockingham County Judge John Kallam, Jr. submitted his resignation, indicating he would not marry same-sex couples because it violated his religious beliefs. The North Carolina newspaper Rockingham Now published the full text of his resignation letter.
It is with deep regret that I must inform you of my intent to resign from my current position as Magistrate effective 31 October 2014. It is my intent to use my remaining administrative days for the remainder of this month. When I took my oath of office, I understood I would be required to perform weddings and have done so throughout my tenure. I did not however take that oath with any understanding that I would be required to marry same-sex couples. It is my personal belief and a position of my Christian faith that doing so would desecrate a holy Institution established by God Himself. Since performing marriages is an integral part of being a Magistrate and in light of recent changes in North Carolina law, I can no longer fulfill my oath of office in good faith.
I will contact Mr. Pegram's office to insure all necessary paper work is completed and all items belonging to the State and/or county are completed and/or returned. I have enjoyed working with all the fine people at the Rockingham County Courthouse. I wish you all the best as you continue in your quest to administer justice in a fair and impartial manner. I am reminded of the last words of David who said, "He that rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God." Where there is no "fear of God" there can be no justice!
Sincerely, John G. Kallam, Jr.
Chief District Judge Fred Wilkins, who received Kallam’s resignation, noted “He’s a good honorable man and a good man who stuck by his convictions.”
In response to the case of Kallam and several other clerks who took similar actions, the North Carolina legislature enacted a law to protect the conscience rights of magistrates who perform marriages and certain registry of deeds employees who issue marriage licenses. It allows such officials to recuse themselves from marriage-related duties (for all marriages, opposite-sex and same-sex) for a period of at least six months, while at the same time ensuring that some public official will be available to perform such services for a minimum period each week.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory vetoed Senate Bill 2 on May 28, 2015, but on June 11, 2015 the North Carolina House joined the Senate to override the Governor’s veto. Thanks to the legislature’s action, Mr. Kallam can now re-apply for any vacant magistrate’s position.
Photo credit: Courtesy of John Kallam, Jr.