Friday, July 10, 2015

Civil Servants' Illegal Defiance on Same-Sex Marriage

With "godly Christian" county clerk's across the South in particular refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples based on their "deeply held religious beliefs" we see (i) a total perversion of the concept of religious freedom as envisioned by the Founding Fathers, and (ii) the demand of Christofascists for special rights writ large.  The Founding Fathers NEVER envisioned civil servants being able to refuse to perform their duties based on claimed religious belief because their concept of religious freedom never extended beyond (a) the freedom to worship in a church of one's choosing, (ii) not being required to support a church that one did not belong to, and (iii)  not being barred from civil office based on one's religious affiliation.  The New York Times has an on point main editorial that slams the modern day Pharisee "godly folk."  Here are excerpts:
The Supreme Court could not have been clearer when it ruled late last month that states may not refuse to marry same-sex couples.

“The right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court in Obergefell v. Hodges. “Under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.”

Most of the country has quickly accepted these words as the law of the land. But in several states where the resistance to marriage equality has been most entrenched, government officials whose job it is to license or perform marriages continue to misunderstand, stall or flatly defy the court. However they justify these tactics, their conduct is illegal and they must stop.

In Hood County, Tex., County Clerk Katie Lang ordered her staff shortly after the ruling not to issue any same-sex marriage licenses because, she said, “I am instilling my religious liberty in this office.”

She later backtracked to say that while she would personally refrain, her staff members were “available and ready” to issue the licenses. But that wasn’t true for Jim Cato and Joe Stapleton, a couple of 27 years who were repeatedly turned away by Ms. Lang because, she told them, the office did not have the updated license forms in hand.

It took a federal lawsuit, which Mr. Cato and Mr. Stapleton filed on Monday, to convince Ms. Lang at last to follow the law and issue the license a few hours later.

[S]ome county clerks in Kentucky and an Alabama probate judge have removed themselves from the marriage business entirely rather than help same-sex couples marry.

These public employees seem to forget that taxpayers pay them to do their job. If doing that job violates their religious beliefs, the best solution is to find another job, as several have done in the days since the Obergefell ruling.

Some same-sex marriage opponents argue that under state religious-freedom laws, a government employee’s beliefs should be accommodated so long as another official is available to carry out the task. But government employees do not have a constitutionally protected right to pick and choose which members of the public they will serve, no matter their religious beliefs.

Not so long ago, of course, government officials invoked religious beliefs to justify all manner of racial segregation and discrimination, including laws banning interracial marriage. The Supreme Court struck down that marriage ban in 1967 in Loving v. Virginia.

It is impossible to imagine any county clerk or judge now claiming a right not to marry an interracial couple based on religious beliefs. And yet, that would be analogous to what these public employees are doing in refusing to serve same-sex couples. The Constitution’s protection of religious freedom simply does not include the right to discriminate against others in the public sphere.

The answer to such behavior is simple.  These clerks need to either do their jobs, or (i) resign, or (ii) go to jail for contempt of court.  Can you imagine anyone other than Christofascists who would think they can simply ignore the law?   Oh, I did I mention that when these people take their oaths of office, they swear to uphold the state and federal constitutions?  Slavish obedience to cherry picked passages in the Bible is nowhere in their oaths of office. 


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