Same-sex couples in Maryland can start tying the knot on December 29, but they better add some extra time to pick up their paperwork: Municipal clerks in St. Mary’s are being allowed to opt-out of providing marriage licenses altogether if marriage equality is against their “religious feelings”
The Washington Examiner reports the chief clerk in the rural county thought it was the best solution:
“There are some [deputy clerks] that have voiced some opposition to doing it — [they have] religious feelings about it … so it’s basically my idea that they won’t do any marriage at all,” said Joan Williams, clerk of the St. Mary’s County Circuit Court. “Some people are just very against same-sex marriages, and I have to respect their reasons and their decisions.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-gay legal group, sent memos to clerks in Maine, Maryland and Washington claiming provisions in state laws allow to them to shirk their responsibility:
“No American should be forced to give up a constitutionally protected freedom, nor should any American be forced to give up his or her job to maintain that freedom,” said ADF senior counsel Austin R. Nimocks. “Religious freedom is paramount to every American, including those issuing marriage licenses. They can perform their job without violating their conscience.”
We really wish a civic-minded, progressive clerk would take a stand and refuse to issue licenses to divorcees, cousins, non-virgins and interfaith couples.
Or, heck, if we’re letting employees make decisions based on their feelings, you could just refuse to give them to ugly couples.