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Kentucky Clerk Sued For Refusing To Issue Licenses For Same-Sex Marriages

church-state-street-signs

A County Clerk in Kentucky is being sued over her refusal to issue marriage licenses in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky filed a lawsuit Thursday on behalf of four couples who were denied marriage licenses by the Rowan County clerk in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic decision legalizing same-sex marriages.

Democrat Kim Davis is among a handful of clerks who have refused to grant licenses to any couples in order to avoid handing them out to gays and lesbians. The suit alleges four couples in Rowan — two same-sex and two straight — who have sought marriage licenses are having their 14th Amendment rights violated as a result.

“We certainly respect the religious beliefs and whatever conscientious choices these clerks make, but it can’t infringe on their job duties and it can’t infringe on the constitutional rights of the citizens that they’re there to serve,” said attorney Dan Canon, one of the lawyers who is representing the four couples.

Davis could not be reached for comment, but in previous interviews with The Courier-Journal she said her “deep religious convictions” forbid her from giving out licenses to same-sex couples and that she decided not to issue them to any couples in the county. She also has suggested those seeking a marriage license obtain one in a neighboring county.

The couples named in the suit filed by the ACLU are April Miller and Karen Roberts; Shantel Burke and Stephen Napier; Jody Fernandez and Kevin Holloway; and L. Aaron Skaggs and Barry W. Spartman.

“We have been citizens of Rowan County since the beginning of our relationship and love being members of this community,” Skaggs said in a statement. “So it only makes sense that we would want and should be granted our right to be recognized as a loving couple having freedom to marry here at home.”

Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, had defended the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, but after the High Court’s ruling on June 26, he issued an executive order telling all state agencies and clerks to comply with it.

Casey County Clerk Casey Davis, a Republican, said late Wednesday evening on MSNBC that the governor should provide “some sort of relief” for clerks who have moral objections to the Supreme Court’s ruling. He also likened Beshear’s order to putting county clerks in “prison.”

“I did not take an oath that said I would lay my personal feelings down to do this job nor will I ever do that,” Casey Davis said on air. “As a matter of fact I said I would do this job to the best of my ability, so help me God, and the best of my ability does not go beyond what my conscience will allow me to do.”

We’ve seen this before, of course. Even before the Supreme Court handed down its decision, North Carolina’s legislature passed, over the Governor’s veto, a law that purports to allow court clerks in the Tarheel State to exempt themselves from performing the clerical duties of their job for same-sex couples if they have a religious objection to same-sex marriage. That law is constitutionally suspect, to put it nicely, but it will take someone actually challenging the actions of a clerk purporting to act pursuant to it to get that matter before a Court. Last week, the Attorney General of Texas, backed up by Senator Ted Cruz, told County Clerks in the Lone Star State that they could effectively ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell if they had religious objections to same-sex marriage. Attorney General Paxton’s advice, of course, has no legal merit whatsoever, and any Clerk in Texas who actually follows it is probably setting themselves up for the same kind of lawsuit we see in this case.

In Kentucky, though, both the Governor and the Attorney General,, who had previously defended the state’s ban on same-sex marriage all the way to the Supreme Court itself, said in the immediate aftermath of the ruling last month that state and county officials in Kentucky were obligated to comply with it, and that failure to do so would likely subject them to lawsuits such as the one filed in this case. In other words, Davis was warned about this and decided to do what she did anyway. Had she decided that her religious conviction were as strong as she claims them to be and quit her job rather than comply with the law, that would be one thing. She’d reveal herself to be kind dumb in my opinion, but at least she would have been honest. Instead, she is arguing that she should be permitted to keep her job but not perform all the of duties required of her. That’s not “religious liberty,” it’s a demand for a special entitlement and it ought to be rejected.

As for the lawsuit itself, this would seem to me to about as close to a slam dunk as one can get in the legal world. The Supreme Court’s ruling is exceedingly clear, same-sex couples cannot be denied marriage licenses. The argument that the “religious liberty” of a county clerk or other government employee is being violated if they are required to do the job they were hired for, which now includes performing clerical related to marriage for same-sex couples, is utterly absurd. These marriage are not religious in any sense of the word. In most cases, the granting of the license isn’t even the final step of the marriage in any case since many people get their license in order to have a ceremony performed by a minister or some other authorized party. All the clerk is doing is making sure that the forms are filled out correctly, that any required documents have been provided, and that the license fee is paid. This is the clerical act of a government functionary, not a religious act by any rational stretch of the imagination. By refusing to grant licenses in this case, Davis is violating the civil liberties of the Plaintiffs for no valid reason. Any competent attorney is going to explain to Davis that she is going to lose if she fights this case, and that she could end being personally responsible for fines and legal fees if the county doesn’t choose to defend her. I suppose she could continue fighting this and eventually find a new career as a faux martyr, but it seems to me like that’s a fairly expensive way to make oneself a media star among the far right.

Here’s the lawsuit:

Miller Et Al v. Davis Et Al by Doug Mataconis

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    I assume she’ll try to use the Kentucky version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in her defense.

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  2. al-Ameda says:

    Casey County Clerk Casey Davis, a Republican, said late Wednesday evening on MSNBC that the governor should provide “some sort of relief” for clerks who have moral objections to the Supreme Court’s ruling. He also likened Beshear’s order to putting county clerks in “prison.”

    “I did not take an oath that said I would lay my personal feelings down to do this job nor will I ever do that,” Casey Davis said on air. “As a matter of fact I said I would do this job to the best of my ability, so help me God, and the best of my ability does not go beyond what my conscience will allow me to do.”

    So, does this objection on the basis of so-called ‘conscience’, extend to – say – a clerk at the Kentucky Motor Vehicles Department who might object to issuing a driver’s license to a person of whom he/she knows to be an alcoholic? Or perhaps transgender?

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  3. MikeSJ says:

    “I did not take an oath that said I would lay my personal feelings down to do this job nor will I ever do that,” Casey Davis said on air

    My personal feelings are such that I should be able sleep in till noon everyday and work for a couple of hours, tops.

    This ruling, if it did go in Casey’s favor, could be a huge win for lazy basterds like me.

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  4. C. Clavin says:

    So her religion teaches intolerance? Has she ever given a license to a divorced person, or someone that has had sex out of wedlock? Has she ever had sex out of wedlock? Lied? Coveted? Taken the Lords name in vain?
    This stuff really cracks me up.
    Let’s say, just for laughs, that there is an almighty being; an infinitely old, infinitely powerful, totally omniscient woman keeping watch over all of the universes in the multiverse. Does anyone seriously thinks she gives two hoots about whether April and Karen get married in Rowan County, Kentucky???
    Most of the Universe is Dark Matter…yet you think she is overly concerned about a couple lesbians in Kentucky that aren’t even made up of the predominate matter in the Universe?
    Our Universe alone is 13.8 billion years old; who knows how old other ones are? Seriously…an all powerful being over 13.8 billion years old cares about this crap???
    There are many other Universes besides ours, probably with completely different physical laws; the very structure of time and space may be radically different, and all of the infinite number of Universes may all be different. Someone juggling all that stuff is likely laughing at the kerfuffle over April and Karen.
    Get some perspective, people.

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  5. Franklin says:

    One district court in Michigan stopped performing marriages all together. But the State law here simply says that they “may” perform marriages, they are not required to.

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  6. CSK says:

    Yeah, I love the “personal feelings” schtick.

    Actually, by saying that, Casey blew his/her own argument right out of the water. “Personal feelings” do not equate to “deeply held religious convictions,” do they?

    My personal feeling is that I hate lima beans. But if I were waiting tables in the Lima Bean Restaurant, I’d be serving up those beans with a huge smile on my face so I’d get great tips.

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  7. legion says:

    @C. Clavin: Just to re-iterate one of these points, if the clerk in question claims religious grounds for refusing to issue a same-sex marriage license, but is fine with issuing licenses to people who have been divorced, then that clerk is, quite simply, lying. Their objection is _not_ honestly religion-based, but solely due to their personal prejudices, and they should receive no legal protection for their claims whatsoever.

    Furthermore, I’d just like to point out that when this bigot took his office, he swore to provide his services to _all_ the people of the county – not just the ones he liked. He either issues the licenses in accordance with the law, resigns from his post, or gets summarily fired for cause. Screw him.

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  8. James Pearce says:

    I can’t wait for Rand Paul’s speech on tyrannical government bureaucrats infringing on liberty. Oh, that’s right…..he won’t make that speech.

    The argument that the “religious liberty” of a county clerk or other government employee is being violated if they are required to do the job they were hired for, which now includes performing clerical related to marriage for same-sex couples, is utterly absurd. These marriage are not religious in any sense of the word.

    Absolutely agree here, but I’d like to make a distinction. When someone says they can’t do business with gay people for religious reasons, they’re lying. This concept has no basis in theology, and it’s actually countermanded in Christian theology. (Mark 12:17)

    What it is, though is a form of political protest. What other forms of political protest shall we allow our bureaucrats?

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  9. Ron Beasley says:

    If she doesn’t like this aspect of her job she has an option – quit. I was an engineer for a rather sleazy company for awhile. They wanted me to do some things that were at best objectionable and probably illegal. I quit!

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  10. Tony W says:

    Gotta go with the herd here – you get to be a bigot on your own time, but if your job is issuing marriage licenses, then you issue the damn licenses in accordance with the law. If your delicate sensibilities are affected, feel free to hire a shrink to talk about it after work.

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  11. Argon says:

    “Reasonable accomodation”

    Having to travel to another county is not a reasonable accommodation. If the county can afford to find someone else in the building who can cover the clerk in these instances, fine. They can accommodate the clerk’s needs and the couples’. If not, they need to find a new clerk.

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  12. Argon says:

    @legion:

    Their objection is _not_ honestly religion-based, but solely due to their personal prejudices, and they should receive no legal protection for their claims whatsoever.

    To be honest, I can’t tell the two possibilities apart. That assumes there is a bedrock of objective logic underpinning religious belief or that one sect had a better handle on things than another. There’s nothing about religious belief that requires logical consistency. And I really don’t want courts trying to determine ‘true’ from ‘false’ religious belief. They’d make a complete bodge of the job. At the end of the day, religious belief really comes down to the individual — It really does boil down to personal prejudices, among other factors.

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  13. CSK says:

    I’ve often tried to imagine in these cases–the photographer who refused to shoot a same sex wedding wedding, the baker who refused to provide a cake for a same-sex wedding, the clerk who refuses to furnish a license for a same-sex marriage–how the refusal scene went down.

    I suspect, on the basis of absolutely no evidence, that some of these refusals might have been pretty harsh: “Are you kidding? Photograph two faggots getting married? That’s evil. Get your filthy presence out of my shop. You are cursed by God.”

    Okay, perhaps I’m overdoing it, but I do wonder how many gay couples were treated to a lecture on their sins, and been assured that they were damned to hell for all eternity.

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  14. James P says:

    What is Anthony Kennedy going to do? Lock up every Christian who refuses to go along with his perversion of marriage?

    There are more of us than there are of them. You can’t lock up every single county clerk who refuses to violates the tenets of their faith.

    If I were a county clerk I would not issue a marriage license to homosexuals – it violates my First Amendment right to practice my faith. If thousands of people were willing to file suit you can’t fire everybody.

    Slavery was the law of the land at one time, but thankfully Christians were willing to defy the law and house escaped slaves via the Underground Railroad.

    If I were 150 years older the tenets of my Christian faith would compel me to assist runaway slaves regardless of what the law (man’s law) said. Likewise I would refuse to issue a marriage license to homosexuals whose very relationship mocks and impugns the Lord.

    You libs are kidding yourself if you think this is a settled issue. I bet you thought killing babies was settled in 1973. Guess what? It’s not.

    Why is every single GOP candidate (with the possible exception of Lindsey Grahamnesty who has no chance anway) outraged by this?

    Conservatives will not stand for this. We didn’t stand for slavery 150 years ago despite it being the law of the land. We don’t stand for killing babies in the womb despite it being the law of the land. We will not stand for five jackholes in black robes perverting the will of the people (which is why homosexual marriage fails almost every time it is on the ballot).

    The homosexuals are doing this to attack Christianity, pure and simple. We will not stand for it. You can’t put us all in jail -there’s too many of us.

    We should let homosexual “marriage’ be legal in just one of the 50 states. Let all the homos live in that state (I nominate Vermont) and leave the rest of us normal people the hell alone and keep their perverted lifestyle away from us.

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  15. C. Clavin says:

    @Argon:

    There’s nothing about religious belief that requires logical consistency.

    This is interesting.
    The SCOTUS will not question a persons religious belief…and rightly so. You tell me you are a religious person, I believe you. Why would you brag about being completely ignorant?
    However, IMO, if you are going to use religious beliefs to evade providing a legal service then I think you need to show some consistency and some rigor in those beliefs. If you are going to not serve da gayz because you believe your religion forbids it, then you should not serve the others that have sinned according to that same belief system. If you are not going to be consistent then your religious beliefs are NOT strongly held and you cannot randomly disregard the law according to your whim of the day.

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  16. stonetools says:

    Doug, I agree that this case should be a slam dunk.
    But SCOTUS in Hobby Lobby found that filling out a form that gave a corporation’s employees an option to choose IUD as a form of birth control on their health insurance policy was an excercise of religion for the owner of that corporation. In light of that, a clerk filling out a marriage license form could reasonably be considered religious practice. So with all due respect you can’t dismiss the clerk’s defense as “ludicrous” and leave it at that. What’s the distinction between this case and Hobby Lobby?. That’ s the issue, like it or not.

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  17. C. Clavin says:

    @James P:
    Dammit…the lying troll is back again. Is he an MBA this time? A Neurosurgeon? A Doctor, a Lawyer, an Indian Chief?
    All we really know is that he is a liar, and a fraud.
    Go away, troll.

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  18. KM says:

    @James P:

    Conservatives will not stand for this. We didn’t stand for slavery 150 years ago despite it being the law of the land.

    Ignoring the rest of the BS, I would put forth with absolute certainty that if you had gone up to Jefferson Davis, Robert E Lee, or any old slaveholder back in the day and repeated that ^@&% to their face, you would have found yourself challenged to a duel forthwith. They most certainly considered themselves politically conservative. Abolitionists were strongly tied to the liberalism of the day (see Harper, the Quakers, etc). It was considered radical, against tradition and the Constitution … ie not conservative by definition.

    Nice try at revisionism buddy.

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  19. Tony W says:

    @James P:

    Slavery was the law of the land at one time, but thankfully Christians were willing to defy the law and house escaped slaves via the Underground Railroad.

    If I were 150 years older the tenets of my Christian faith would compel me to assist runaway slaves regardless of what the law (man’s law) said. Likewise I would refuse to issue a marriage license to homosexuals whose very relationship mocks and impugns the Lord.

    LOL, a history re-write if I ever read one. Your ‘Bible” was one of the chief weapons used to justify slavery. Deuteronomy and your buddy Paul were both big fans of the ‘peculiar institution’.

    I know you like to pretend Christians are persecuted because you can no longer assert your bigotry against your fellow Americans, but if you prefer a theocracy you might enjoy the middle east! I hear the weather is lovely this time of year, your buddy ‘Jesus’ certainly seemed to enjoy preaching out in the fresh air when he wasn’t cursing fig trees out of season.. Might be a good idea to read some of the work attributed to him.

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  20. Tony W says:

    How Christians Justified Slavery

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  21. MikeSJ says:

    @James P:

    If thousands of people were willing to file suit you can’t fire everybody.

    You sure about that?

    I’m pretty sure they actually could fire “everybody” who won’t do their job and replace them in a heartbeat.

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  22. Kylopod says:

    @James P:

    If I were a county clerk I would not issue a marriage license to homosexuals – it violates my First Amendment right to practice my faith.

    And what about Episcopalians, UCC, and other Christian denominations that believe in SSM? Do you support their right to practice their religion? Or does the First Amendment only apply to those who agree with you?

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  23. Facebones says:

    @James P:

    The homosexuals are doing this to attack Christianity, pure and simple.

    No, dipshit, the homosexuals are doing it so they can be married. Your “faith” is of no concern to anyone but you.

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  24. An Interested Party says:

    Casey County Clerk Casey Davis, a Republican, said late Wednesday evening on MSNBC that the governor should provide “some sort of relief” for clerks who have moral objections to the Supreme Court’s ruling. He also likened Beshear’s order to putting county clerks in “prison.”

    Christ on a cracker! We have gay people who have been beaten up, discriminated against, and had a host of other unjust actions taken against them, and this idiot and his fellow travelers are the victims? As nasty as bigots were back in the 60s when they opposed civil rights laws, at least they didn’t claim to be victims like this bozo…

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  25. CB says:

    @James P:

    The homosexuals are doing this to attack Christianity, pure and simple.

    Or maybe they’re doing it for adoption rights, immigration rights, and the right to live quiet, peaceful, normal lives with the people they love. You nincompoop.

    Yeah, yeah, DFTFT, I know. Couldn’t help myself.

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  26. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I find that I have a really hard time taking seriously the worldview of people who believe that the intersection between “Christian” and “”the homosexuals (sic)” is a null set.

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  27. legion says:

    @Argon:
    To be honest, I can’t tell the two possibilities apart.
    I’m not sure there’s much of a real difference myself, but if the courts are bound and determined to allow religious exemptions for things, you’d damn well better be able to support that your particular prejudice is actually religious in its basis. This guy absolutely cannot.

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  28. Rick DeMent says:

    The State should apply the exact same scrutiny as the US military did during the draft years in evaluating conscientious objector status to all who want to claim a “deeply held religious belief”. There seems to be a precedent for this.

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  29. Argon says:

    I can see the desire to separate consistent, coherent beliefs from positions of mere convenience but it is a problem. During the Vietnam War draft era there were inconsistencies for determination of conscientious objector status. There were attempts to impose some uniformity in decisions but… it often depended on the make up of the draft board (one reason why Quakers often worked hard to serve on those boards).

    Here we’ve got a case where there truly is widespread opposition to same sex marriage that many religious leaders and their parishioners hold. Not all of these oppose remarriage and certainly many are not going to ask the people they’re registering if they are adulterers. But a same sex couple is easy to spot. I don’t agree with the basis for their actions but I can see where a person could have a conscientious objection to performing such marriages. Yep, it could be based on pure prejudice too but it’s not going to be an easy case to counter. A clerk could say that they don’t approve of second marriages and be willing to bend in those cases but claim that SSM is line they cannot cross.

    But hey, that’s OK. We can accommodate such folk so long as it’s not too onerous. Otherwise they can seek alternate employment. I’m sure they’ll return the favor when we want to take Festivus day off.

    In a related aside, atheists get totally f’ed over in these conversations about moral objections.

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  30. KM says:

    @James P:
    The history lesson you never knew you didn’t need to know AKA Christian Theology TMI

    And that’s some measurement assumption to make there. Christ is very disappointed in you, son. Way to make Baby Jesus cry….

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  31. Grewgills says:

    How can you not all see that James P is farce? I mean really

    The only body a good Christian should eat is Christ’s, and then only in the figurative sense while on earth. This is so that we may learn to suppress our phallus consuming urges, forbearing the foreskin for the cut 8′ of Christ in heaven.

    How can anyone read that and think he is serious?

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  32. KM says:

    @Grewgills:
    Oh we know. But Someone Is Wrong on The Internet is a hideous bitch goddess and much like staring at a train-wreck, it’s hard to stop yourself. Besides, if he’s not going away of his own free will and the mods won’t be aggressive to the point of extreme prejudice (which is what its going to take) about it, why the hell not respond? The replies are worth reading even if the source material is crap.

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  33. de stijl says:

    If I were a county clerk I would not issue a marriage license to homosexuals – it violates my First Amendment right to practice my faith.

    Should a member of the Church of Satan be allowed to refuse service to Christians? Should a member of a Black Supremacist Church be allowed to refuse service to white people?

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  34. Davebo says:

    James, I know page clicks are everything but seriously??

    Doug, work with us here.

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  35. anjin-san says:

    I think James P. might be Bobby Jindal, writing under an alias. There is a similar level of whiny, pathetic self-pity.

    It reminds me of a line from a movie I liked many years ago – “If Jesus were to come back and see what is being done in his name, he would never stop throwing up”…

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  36. J-Dub says:

    @anjin-san: Or, as portrayed in the movie The Green Mile, they would be more than happy to execute him all over again.

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  37. Barbara O'Donnell says:

    @Argon:
    You cannot speak for someone else.
    I guess using the Right of Religious Freedom trumps the right of 5 Supreme Court Justices ramming gay marriage down the throats of 300 million people.

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  38. Barbara O'Donnell says:

    States don’t have to comply.

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  39. anjin-san says:

    @Barbara O’Donnell:

    You cannot speak for someone else.

    Yet apparently you can.

    5 Supreme Court Justices ramming gay marriage down the throats of 300 million people

    I welcome marriage equality. Kindly don’t presume you that can speak for me on this issue.

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  40. Barry says:

    @James P: “Slavery was the law of the land at one time, but thankfully Christians were willing to defy the law and house escaped slaves via the Underground Railroad.”

    “If I were 150 years older the tenets of my Christian faith would compel me to assist runaway slaves regardless of what the law (man’s law) said. Likewise I would refuse to issue a marriage license to homosexuals whose very relationship mocks and impugns the Lord.”

    No, your Christian faith would quote all of those verses used to support slavery. You’d cheer when ‘liberals’ were locked up for illegally aiding runaways.

    “Conservatives will not stand for this. We didn’t stand for slavery 150 years ago despite it being the law of the land. ”

    Conservatives sure as h*ll did stand for this, and fight for it.

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  41. Barry says:

    @MikeSJ: @James P:

    “If thousands of people were willing to file suit you can’t fire everybody.”

    MikeSJ: “You sure about that?

    I’m pretty sure they actually could fire “everybody” who won’t do their job and replace them in a heartbeat.”

    Ask PATCO. They’d have a bitter laugh about the impossibility of firing thousands of people.

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  42. C. Clavin says:

    @James P:

    the foreskin for the cut 8′ of Christ

    Christ has 8 feet of swinging dick?
    Impressive…even for a fictional character.

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  43. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @C. Clavin:

    There are many other Universes besides ours,

    Ummmm, sorry, but you are stretching the unable to prove string theory so thin with your assertions of fact that it is liable to implode with all the force of a supernova.

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  44. Pete S says:

    @Barbara O’Donnell:

    ramming gay marriage down the throats of 300 million people.

    Really? 300 million people are now being forced to marry someone of the same sex against their will? I admit I have no legal training but that isn’t how I understood the ruling at all.

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  45. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @stonetools: I am sure Doug will say “One is gov’t, the other is private.” But then he will have to square that circle with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (no more segregated lunch counters), and I don’t think that can be done. Mind you, he’ll probably just ignore the whole conundrum.

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  46. C. Clavin says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    OK…but I am just as able to prove that there are many universes, as religious zealots are able to prove that there is a god.
    Even if, depressingly, there is only our Universe…the idea that this all powerful being overseeing it in all it’s vastness gives a damn if April and Karen are married is ridiculous. Especially if they are truly in love, which…correct me if I’m wrong…is what Christianity is all about.

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  47. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Rick DeMent:

    The State should apply the exact same scrutiny as the US military did during the draft years in evaluating conscientious objector status to all who want to claim a “deeply held religious belief”. There seems to be a precedent for this. – See more at: http://wordpress-80960-242333.cloudwaysapps.com/kentucky-clerk-sued-for-refusing-to-issue-licenses-for-same-sex-marriages/?#comment-2024810

    There is a difference, a BIG FN DIFFERENCE, between a draftee and an elected official or a gov’t employee. One is being FORCED into a job they did not want or asked for, and the other…. Well, I think you get the drift by now.

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  48. al-Ameda says:

    @Barbara O’Donnell:

    States don’t have to comply.

    I would hope that we let those states secede, we’d all be better off for it.

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  49. Kylopod says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @C. Clavin: It isn’t only string theory that leads to the idea of a multiverse; some interpretations of quantum mechanics and inflation theory do as well. Neither depends on an acceptance of string theory.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Many-worlds_interpretation
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_inflation

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  50. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @C. Clavin: Agreed, but as a fellow atheist I have to say that the Pope’s latest encyclical proves you wrong on this point:

    Especially if they are truly in love, which…correct me if I’m wrong…is what Christianity is all about.

    As one who had the Catholicism beaten out of me by a nun, I am loath to give the church much credit, but I can not deny this man this much.

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  51. CSK says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Never happen. They need the money blue states pay in federal taxes far, far, too much.

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  52. Pete S says:

    @Argon:

    If the county can afford to find someone else in the building who can cover the clerk in these instances, fine. They can accommodate the clerk’s needs and the couples’.

    Even this is going too far. Unless the couples in question are allowed to pay lower property taxes or local sales taxes to reflect services they are entitled to but not getting? They should not have to wait even 5 extra minutes because a civil servant cannot condescend to serve them.

    Maybe the payroll office can operate on the same principle and just say that they cannot in all good conscience issue a pay cheque to a bigot, but they are welcome to try the next county?

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  53. C. Clavin says:

    @CSK:
    Right? Kentucky, which takes $1.50 from DC for every $1.00 it sends, is bankrupt the minute it secedes.

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  54. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: Yes, I know, and it was lazy writing that led me to leave them out, but no theory positing a multi-verse is anywhere close to proven. As far as we know, this is all there is. I also fully expect that no matter how many universes there may actually be, this one universe is all we get.

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  55. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Barbara O’Donnell: You know, we had this little kerfuffle about this sort of sloppy thinking once. Let me think… As best I recall, it was about 150 years ago…. Oh yeah, maybe you heard about this, it was called THE CIVIL WAR.

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  56. al-Ameda says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Right? Kentucky, which takes $1.50 from DC for every $1.00 it sends, is bankrupt the minute it secedes. – See more at: http://wordpress-80960-242333.cloudwaysapps.com/kentucky-clerk-sued-for-refusing-to-issue-licenses-for-same-sex-marriages//#comments

    … and, California, the state that conservatives mock 24/7, gets back 80 cents for every dollar it sends to DC.

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  57. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @al-Ameda:

    California, the state that conservatives mock 24/7, gets back 80 cents for every dollar it sends to DC.

    Well, of course conservatives mock them. Who wouldn’t mock somebody for continuously getting .80 back on every $1 invested. I mean, you have top be a sucker to make that bet again and again.

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  58. C. Clavin says:

    @al-Ameda:
    Here in CT we get back a whopping $00.69 for every dollar sent to DC. People here complain about the state and local taxes…I tell them to imagine how nice it would be if we didn’t have to support all the Red State Welfare Queens.

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  59. CSK says:

    @C. Clavin:

    South Carolina gets back $7.87 for each dollar it sends the Feds

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  60. gVOR08 says:

    @C. Clavin: I usually explain that liberals are OK with subsidizing KY because we recognize community obligations and conservatives are OK with it because they pretend it doesn’t happen.

    However, maybe we should take a hint from the EU Troika, call all Kentuckians lazy losers, and demand they make impossible improvements in their economy.

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  61. C. Clavin says:

    @CSK:
    Confederate flags are expensive.

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  62. C. Clavin says:

    @gVOR08:
    Heck…we could take a lesson from Kentuckians themselves and call anyone who takes that kind of welfare a moocher and a taker and institute “welfare reforms” intended to strip them of the aid as well as policy changes meant to benefit only the “makers”.

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  63. JohnMcC says:

    @C. Clavin: Take a page from the red state governors and make the ‘moocher’ states pass a urine drug screen?

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  64. C. Clavin says:

    @JohnMcC:
    And limit what they can spend the money on!!!! No steak or lobster or liquor for the Governors or Legislators of these welfare queen states.
    I think we are onto something here.

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  65. C. Clavin says:

    @JohnMcC:
    We should stigmatize these states instead of pretending that they are balancing their budgets.
    Bobby Jindal is running around the country talking about Obama and Clinton leading us to socialism, while the state he runs collects 78% more than it sends out.

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  66. Gavin says:

    @James P: Your knowledge of the Bible is objectively incorrect.

    John 13:35 [NIV] By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

    Jesus didn’t give caveats.. this is the new covenant. You don’t have to like it, but you do have to abide by it.. unless, of course, you ignore the teachings of Jesus whenever you feel like it.

    The irony, of course, is that the asserted reason for not completing the paperwork [“because it doesn’t comport with Christian values”] makes that person not a Christian, which means they have zero religious justification for their action. They can THINK their religion gives them an excuse, but it does not.

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  67. Gavin says:

    @James P:

    Don’t go to Vegas any time soon – you’re still wrong.

    Jesus is the only one who judges – period, dot. You as a human don’t get that power, ever. Your role on this world is only to love. If you assert that you get to wait to love people until they eliminate sin from their life.. then you yourself deserve zero love.

    If you want to act like a Christian [rather than just preach lies to other people] – you cannot judge until you are free of sin yourself.. and you are not the one who gets to determine when you are free from sin.

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  68. Tony W says:

    @James P: So can we then assume you are in favor of shutting down fast food restaurants (to make Gluttony inconvenient) and closing Wall Street markets to make Greed less available?? Just for your reference

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  69. humanoid.panda says:

    I’ll pit it against your any day of the week and twice on Sunday. I have read the Bible just about every day for my entire adult life

    Do you have a PhD in Biblical Studies? You could really use one now!

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  70. michael reynolds says:

    @James P:

    I’m curious. How do you make it inconvenient for homosexuals to have sex?

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  71. Jasper says:

    @James P:

    I was one of those gay men, and it’s true.

    There I was at the gay bath house, filled with lust for another man, when I saw James P. He was watching me. Well, he was watching all the guys. But it was my penis he grabbed and prayed over. He left me limp with the light of Jesus.

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  72. Tony W says:

    For those interested in historical/traditional marriage – here is an interesting link on church-sanctioned gay marriage in 100 AD.

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  73. C. Clavin says:

    @James P:
    Seriously Mr. Christian…you’ve been banned. A Christian would respect the rights of the owners.
    And what kind of Christian lies about his credentials?
    Go away troll.

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  74. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Barbara O’Donnell: I’ve noticed over the years that gay rights’ opponents seem overly concerned with having things rammed down their throats. It’s almost as if… nah… couldn’t be.

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  75. Gavin says:

    @C. Clavin:

    He’s not a Christian in any way. He doesn’t understand the intellectual definition of why the Christian life is difficult [your role is to love people; God’s role is to judge] and he doesn’t have the heart to care for people [which comes from many experiences of choosing to be caring even though the people you’re caring for may very well be sinning against you at that very moment].

    He did, however, sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night.

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  76. JohnMcC says:

    @James P: Someone is having waaaay too much fun. And I don’t mean Mr P.

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  77. al-Ameda says:

    @michael reynolds:

    @James P:
    I’m curious. How do you make it inconvenient for homosexuals to have sex?

    Periodically, I drive through the Castro District, and over loud speakers strapped to the roof on my Prius, I broadcast Judy Garland records played backwards, and you can definitely hear an unidentified voice chanting “Rock Hudson was hetero …” over and over.

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  78. J-Dub says:

    @James P:

    I have read the Bible just about every day for my entire adult life.

    Enough said.

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  79. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    If you support homosexual marriage you are not a Christian, period.

    I consider myself a devout Christian and, frankly, your opinion my faith is entirely irrelevant. You’re not the one who gets to decide 😀

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  80. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James P:

    This is a remarkable piece of performance art. Truly a masterpiece of the troll genre.

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  81. wr says:

    @James P: Wow, this poor troll is really getting desperate… or bored. One thing about JP was that he was so completely unwilling to break character, even when he was outed. But here he can’t even keep a straight face, and he’s starting to do a poor version of Stephen Colbert’s old schtick.

    Old trolls never die… but apparently they don’t fade away, either.

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  82. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:

    Well, it’s possible that more than one person is using the name James P.

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  83. Rick DeMent says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    The State should apply the exact same scrutiny as the US military did during the draft years in evaluating conscientious objector status to all who want to claim a “deeply held religious belief”. There seems to be a precedent for this.

    There is a difference, a BIG FN DIFFERENCE, between a draftee and an elected official or a gov’t employee. One is being FORCED into a job they did not want or asked for, and the other…. Well, I think you get the drift by now.

    It’s a difference that doesn’t mean doodly. One is trying to get out of a forced enlistment, the other is trying to get out of serving the public after being licensed to do so.. They both have responsibilities. One is bigger than the other, sure. But now we are talking about a difference of degrees not kind. We are going to get to a point real soon where all anyone will need to do is claim some ill-defined theology, half-baked nonsense, or total fiction, because the standard legal test for what qualifies as a “deeply held belief” will be “because I said so“.

    If the baker really is that devoted then they should specialize in items that are exclusively Conservative Christian themed. Then there is no discrimination problem, they can sell those to anyone without ever running afoul of their closely held beliefs or the law.

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  84. C. Clavin says:

    @Rick DeMent:

    We are going to get to a point real soon where all anyone will need to do is claim some ill-defined theology, half-baked nonsense, or total fiction, because the standard legal test for what qualifies as a “deeply held belief” will be “because I said so“.

    Exactly as Ruth Bader Ginsburg predicted in her dissent to Hobby Lobby.

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  85. Tony W says:

    @michael reynolds: Multiple aliases was my assumption as well.

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  86. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: Including possibly the one called, um, Jasper?

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  87. Tony W says:

    @wr: You noticed that too, huh? 😉

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  88. Matt says:

    It was hard to not notice that goof 😛

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  89. JohnMcC says:

    @wr: Oh NO! You’re telling me someone is telling lie on the internet?

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  90. de stijl says:

    reynolds was doing that that “Yeah, I’ve been busted, but look over there – SQUIRREL!” thing.

    michael, you should probably retire the Jasper nym. This is a sitch you can’t moxie your way out of.

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  91. de stijl says:

    State RFRAs should protect the freedom to worship as one wishes (within certain prescribed sanctions: human sacrifice would have a huge legal burden to surpass). The freedom to worship as one will does not extend to the workplace.

    They should protect positive liberties – peyote as a sacrament is a good example. It may be illegal for the general populace, but in certain circumstances, it is allowed for members of the church within proscribed limits.

    RFRAs that are cover for Christian Privilege Preservation Acts are backdoor Establishment Clause get-out-of-jail-free cards. “Our religious carve-outs have cultural privilege; yours don’t. Suck it.” is not a legal argument. That would be protecting a negative liberty – the ability for one class of people to deny another class equal rights and protection that is due them by law.

    Any religious-based carve-out needs to be very carefully defined.

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  92. JohnMcC says:

    @de stijl: In The Federalist is a piece by Ed Domenech (‘The Left Wants to End the Separation of Church and State’) in which he takes some random column (in — if you can believe it — Time magazine that journal of socialism and revolution) advocating restricting the tax exemption for charities associated with church and some private colleges and declares that the essence of religious liberty is — tax exemption. Like Sen Rand Paul, he must feel that taxation is slavery. (H/T washington monthly & Ed Kilgore)

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  93. DrDaveT says:

    @anjin-san:

    It reminds me of a line from a movie I liked many years ago – “If Jesus were to come back and see what is being done in his name, he would never stop throwing up”…

    Hannah and Her Sisters

    What do I win?

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  94. DrDaveT says:

    @de stijl:

    The freedom to worship as one will does not extend to the workplace.

    This is actually not as clear-cut as it seems at first glance. If my religion requires me to wear a turban/scarf/beard/symbol, under what circumstances is that grounds for denying me a job? It seems pretty clear (to me, at least) that Hooters should be permitted to refuse to hire waitresses who won’t wear the uniform. It also seems pretty clear that Hooters should not be permitted to refuse to hire an accountant who insists on wearing a turban. There is some swampy quagmire in-between those two extremes.

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  95. Kylopod says:

    @DrDaveT:

    There is some swampy quagmire in-between those two extremes.

    I agree, and I and members of my family have some experience with this as Jews. My mother was once denied work because of her refusal to work on Saturday, and when I was in college I one time had to get the administration to twist the arms of one of my professors who didn’t want to give me another day for a test that fell on a Jewish holiday. (This didn’t happen very often because most of the professors knew the rules on how to treat religious students.)

    I may be oversimplifying, but the basic principle as I understand it is as follows: nobody has an absolute right to a job that happens to place restrictions on his or her religious practices; however, employers do have some responsibility to accommodate the religious needs of their employees as long as those needs do not place an “undue burden” on the employers.

    So yes, there are many gray areas when it comes to religious freedom. The thing is, same-sex marriage isn’t one of them. Just like the claim that people fired for expressing anti-SSM views have had their freedom of speech violated, claims that SSM will infringe on freedom of religion make a mockery of real First Amendment issues, and amount basically to attempts by people who aim to restrict the freedom of others sound like the victims.

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  96. DrDaveT says:

    @Kylopod:

    So yes, there are many gray areas when it comes to religious freedom. The thing is, same-sex marriage isn’t one of them.

    No argument from me on that — I was just responding to the blanket assertion that freedom to worship as one chooses doesn’t extend to the workplace. I would agree, though, that it certainly doesn’t extend to how you treat customers in the workplace. There is no valid religion-based right to refuse to serve customers that your religion disapproves of, no matter what your religion might be. If your religion disapproves of shaving, don’t be a barber. If your religion disapproves of eating pork, don’t work as a waitress at Red Hot & Blue. If your religion disapproves of killing people for any reason, don’t join the Army. If your religion disapproves of birth control, don’t be a pharmacist (or OB/GYN). And if your pathetic hateful religion disapproves of gay people being happy, don’t be a justice of the peace or county clerk.

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  97. Kylopod says:

    @DrDaveT:

    If your religion disapproves of killing people for any reason, don’t join the Army.

    That’s the only example I’d quibble with. There is in fact some legal precedent for groups like Quakers to be exempted from the draft. That’s one of those trickier issues which does show that freedom of religion in this country has often been interpreted to exempt certain people from the effects of certain laws under certain circumstances.

    But I do agree with your general point: I don’t know of any legal precedent for allowing workers who serve the general public to refuse service to customers they religiously disapprove of.

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