The New York Times, bastion of the Liberal Establishment, said on 1 Sept. that “A county clerk in Kentucky who objects to same-sex marriage on religious grounds denied licenses to gay couples on Tuesday, despite the Supreme Court refusal to support her position. … Ms. Davis told the Supreme Court that her Apostolic Christian faith forbade her to affix her name to a document endorsing the view that the marriages of gay men and lesbians were authentic.”
Suppose her religious beliefs would not allow her to affix her name to a marriage between people of two distinct races or religions. Would that be acceptable? Suppose she objected on religious grounds to grant wedding licenses to Boslovinians? Would that be acceptable?
There is a simple solution. She can resign if her religious beliefs prevent her from performing her duties.
However, that begs the question of what the state can require of its employees with regard to the practice of their religious beliefs. For example, can the state force employees to work on the sabbath day? If one works for the police force and an emergency arises, can the chief of police enforce a no leave policy that requires Jews to work on Saturday, Christians to work on Sunday, Muslims to work on Friday during prayers, Catholics to work on Good Friday, etc.
There is a difference between requirements and prohibitions. Various courts have ruled against allowing snake handling by religious organizations when local statues forbid the practice. Polygamy is illegal. Could a clerk whose religious beliefs allowed or encouraged polygamy grant licenses for polygamous marriages? Is this a denial of religious freedom.
There is a simpler solution: Someone else in the office can sign the document. In fact, for a modest fee plus expenses, I will go to Rowan County, Kentucky and sign marriage licenses. And as I’m an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church, for an additional modest fee, I will perform the ceremony.
Rowan County, this is an offer you cannot refuse.