“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.” Constitution of the United States of America, Article VI
Civics classes in the deep south may need to have their curriculum adjusted, as it seems many civil servants there don’t understand this portion of the U.S. Constitution. On Friday, June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled state bans on same-sex marriages violate the U.S. Constitution. They also ruled that states cannot refuse to recognize the lawful marriages conducted in other states. This had the effect of legalizing same-sex marriage, or now, simply ‘marriage’, across the United States. County clerks across the south, many spurred on by state attorneys general and governors, are refusing to issue marriage license to same-sex couples. A few have even stopped issuing licenses altogether, to avoid having to let the gays get married.
Citing “sincerely held religious belief” as the justification for government employees refusing to carry out their duties, county clerks, attorneys general, and state governors (oddly, or perhaps not, all Republican) are dashing out memos as fast as their printers and computers can send them. Some have seen the light, and are issuing licenses, but some are still holding out, claiming they need “clarification” or “direction”. Personally, I’d just refer them to ‘Constitution, U.S., Article 6, Clause 2′ and be done with it.
I’m a government employee. I wonder how it would be received if I began instituting a religious filter on whether or not I will carry out my duties? You really won’t mind being put on hold when you dial 9-1-1, if I determine it would be against my belief system to help you, do you? I’m sure someone else will be available shortly to help you, but, I’m sorry, I really can’t. I’m pretty sure the county would fire me in short order if I tried that, but you know what? I serve everyone equally, no matter who they are, or who they might decide they want to marry. I took an oath to uphold the constitution of the United States, and the state of California, and unless someone snuck some secret lines into those documents while I wasn’t looking, there’s no excuse for failing to do the job for which I was hired. After all, I, and those clerks, asked for the position. I, and they, don’t get to pick and choose for whom they will discharge their duties.
Photo: Casy Cavalier (left), and Tod King attempt to get a marriage license in Denton, Texas. County clerk Juli Luke refused. Image: Kristin Watson, Denton Record-Chronicle