On Duty

Most gays and lesbians across the nation celebrated the decision of the California Supreme Court to overturn the ban on gay marriage in California last week.  Today, however, there is new news from San Diego County:

On Wednesday, San Diego County Clerk Gregory Smith said he would consider allowing clerks to bow out of processing such marriages if they had moral or religions objections.

Without examining the California decison more carefully, I can’t be sure of the legalities of this.  However, we Vermonters encountered some resistance like this years ago after the inception of the Vermont Civil Unions statute, which was resolved thusly:

Vermont’s Supreme Court recently rejected a claim that Act 91 unconstitutionally infringes on clerks’ constitutional rights to free exercise of religion. The justices reasoned that the statutory provision authorizing clerks to delegate civil licensing duties to assistants adequately accommodated their religious beliefs.

The argument seems to me fairly simple.  If one of your job duties is to issue marriage licenses, then you must do so in accordance with your job description, regardless of your personal feelings.  I never liked selling pizzas to fat people, and wanted to tell them to go eat a salad, but guess what?  Had I done that, I’d have been fired quicker than you can say “Jenny Craig.” 

This also reminds me of the argument a couple of years ago regarding pharmacists who refuse to offer birth control based on their religious beliefs.  It’s moronic.  I can see if you felt it would violate your oath to protect the health of the patient, but you do not have the right to impose your beliefs on my person.  Period.  I don’t care if you’re offended, because you don’t have the right to not be offended. 

If you’re a clerk who is required to issue marriage licenses and two men come in to get one, and the law says they are qualified, then you don’t have a say in the matter.  If I were a clerk, I’d probably object to issuing marriage licenses to naive women who are in love with ex-con losers who won’t keep a job and will leave fatherless children, but that’s her judgement to make, not mine.  The job is to issue a piece of paper, not make moral judgements. 

Do your duty–what you’re paid to do.  Which doesn’t involve pontificating.  You can do that on your own time, not the taxpayer dime. 


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