MD Clerks Allowed To Pass On Issuing Marriage Licenses For “Religious Feelings”

marriage-licenseSame-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.

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  • mlbumiller

    whoa wtf…..The are an employee of the State if they cannot fulfill the requirements of those duties, their a** should be canned.

  • mlbumiller

    @mlbumiller: Phone number: 301-475-7844
    Joan W. Williams, Clerk of Court ext/4567 M. Rita Cullins, Chief Deputy ext/4565

  • erasure25

    Well, I guess it means atheist clerks can also pass on providing marriage services to fundamentalist wackos as well!

  • yahnis

    Further proof of the power of religion to totally mess things up.

  • 2eo

    @mlbumiller: If this was Atheist’s they’d have been sacked on the spot.

    Yet more societal bias against the future.

  • ChiChi Man

    This is outrageous garbage. I’m totally calling and writing these fools. You CANNOT work for a government institution unless you’re willing to serve every single, fricking, tax payer.

    Imagine what would happen in the South if County Clerks refused to register people of color based on “religious reasons” (again)?

  • Daniel-Reader

    Notice how the rightwing groups claiming freedom never defend the First Amendment rights of gay Americans or their families. It is pathetic and hypocritical.

  • Charli Girl


    If i declined on a moral agenda everyday at my job, ID BE FIRED!! [email protected]
    i know damn well this ignorant little law will have no longevity bc “aint nobody
    that stupid!!!
    ok u can have SOME rights but u r STILL 2nd class citizens!!
    Kiss my ass!!!

  • macmantoo

    I work for a County office in Nevada. And you work for all the TAXPAYERS, not just the religious ones. If your religious interfers with your job then you resign. You are there to server your taxpayers not your religion.

  • Avenger


  • Caliban

    Someone needs to disabuse these fools of the notion that THEY are marrying anyone. You ain’t a preacher, honey, you’re a functionary in a government office who stamps pieces of paper. People are married by the STATE. And if you can’t do your job, then find another.

  • 2265

    i want to ask all county clerks if they refuse to sign marriage cirtificates of “good christians” who have been married and divorced? i have read the bible and it is very clear on this subject. if so, they are hypocrites.

  • Cam

    And if their religious feelings were that it was ok for them to steal money?

Comments are closed.