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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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69 Responses

  1. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin June 29, 2011 at 4:44 pm |

    It’s not fair! It’s not fair! It’s not fair! *stamp pout stamp pout*

  2. Hopeful
    Hopeful June 29, 2011 at 4:57 pm |

    A county clerk in another state should start refusing to sign hetero marriage certificates because they find it unethical that same-sex couples don’t have the same rights. Maybe the religious right will give up on conscience rights when they remember they don’t have a monopoly on morality.

  3. Emolee
    Emolee June 29, 2011 at 5:19 pm |

    If her beliefs are preventing her from doing her job, then she should quit her job. Or she should be fired for not performing a primary function of her job. I am usually for religious accomodations, such as to dress codes and schedules, but in this situation, the thing she objects to doing is too central to her job. Sort of like a person whose religion didn’t approve of dispensing medicine shouldn’t be a school nurse. If she doesn’t sign the certificates, same-sex couples cannot get married and are thus denied their civil and legal rights.

    If she truly objects on moral grounds, then she shouldn’t mind quitting. Yes, it’s hard out there to find a job. But you bet if the people I worked for asked me to start “gassing the Jews,” the first in a long line of things that I would do is quit my job.

  4. Ellie
    Ellie June 29, 2011 at 5:41 pm |

    The town will only accept a resignation letter if it’s signed with the blood of a young virgin and packaged in the hide of the cutest kittens, thus the dilemma.

  5. karak
    karak June 29, 2011 at 6:39 pm |

    I’m amazed at how many things are like gassing Jews.

    Also train of thought: concentration camp victims=>homosexuals=>gay rights=>denied rights=>gassing Jews=>concentration camp victims?

  6. Kierra
    Kierra June 29, 2011 at 6:42 pm |

    But you bet if the people I worked for asked me to start “gassing the Jews,” the first in a long line of things that I would do is quit my job.

    You beat me to it.

    These people want to make a principled stand, but don’t want to actually have to give anything up for their principles.

  7. zuzu
    zuzu June 29, 2011 at 6:46 pm |

    Unfortunately for her, the new law doesn’t make an exception for county clerks. The exceptions are all clearly spelled out in the law, and they don’t include government employees.

    Too bad, so sad.

  8. Annaleigh
    Annaleigh June 29, 2011 at 7:45 pm |

    Dammit. *sigh* I’m sorry to see NY has an equivalent to my local county clerk in here in California (that would be Kern County), who refused to perform civic marriage ceremonies for everyone so that she could weasel out of doing her job.

    Her office made a big deal out of saying that she was just trying to save money while the economy was bad, but then when local media tried to call her out on it she would refer them to a Focus on the Family affliated organization that was supposed to protect her “rights.”

  9. Macha
    Macha June 29, 2011 at 10:21 pm |

    I am thoroughly unconvinced by claims of oppression coming from the white, hetero, Christian majority.

  10. David
    David June 29, 2011 at 11:31 pm |

    It would be pretty cool if I could avoid doing my job by claiming religious exemption.

    Next time my boss tells me to do work on a weekend, I’ll tell him that man shalt not work on the sabbath. I’ll let y’all know how that one goes over.

  11. Girl from Ontario
    Girl from Ontario June 30, 2011 at 12:10 am |

    I don’t understand why people get into service professions and then refuse to serve people. I’m pretty sure that if I refused to serve someone at the bank I work at because they were black, or Asian, or they looked gay or whatever, I would get a very stern talking to and if I still refused service on those grounds, be fired. It makes your boss look horrible and it alienates your customers. Not to mention it shows that you don’t give a shit about your job, your employer, or your colleagues. You’re only out for yourself, which makes you a horrible employee. I don’t give a shit what your opinions are. Put them aside when you come to work and do your damn job, otherwise you don’t deserve to keep it.

  12. Annaleigh
    Annaleigh June 30, 2011 at 12:24 am |

    David:
    It would be pretty cool if I could avoid doing my job by claiming religious exemption.

    Next time my boss tells me to do work on a weekend, I’ll tell him that man shalt not work on the sabbath. I’ll let y’all know how that one goes over.

    When I was a kid, it was a Thing in these parts to joke that if you didn’t want to do something (like homework) that you refused to do it “because it’s against my religion.” The implication being that religion isn’t good enough an excuse to opt out of things you must do, like homework if you are a student, or public service if you are a civil servant. It’s amazing that that simple truth never reached our county clerk, nor this town clerk in NY.

  13. Shoshie
    Shoshie June 30, 2011 at 12:36 am |

    David: Next time my boss tells me to do work on a weekend, I’ll tell him that man shalt not work on the sabbath. I’ll let y’all know how that one goes over.

    I’ve had to turn down some pretty sweet job offers because they involved work on Friday night or Saturday, with conflicts with my Awesome Jewy Sabbath time. If you’re, y’know, actually a marginalized religious minority, you realize pretty quickly what you can and can’t get away with. Telling your boss that you can’t do basic work functions because it conflicts with your religion? Yeah, not in the former category.

    And, dear Lord, people really need to stop comparing everything to Nazis and the Holocaust. It makes me cranky.

  14. mephistephanies
    mephistephanies June 30, 2011 at 1:16 am |

    Please accept Upstate, NY’s humblest apologies. Volney is not exactly a center of enlightenment.

  15. matlun
    matlun June 30, 2011 at 2:50 am |

    Macha: I am thoroughly unconvinced by claims of oppression coming from the white, hetero, Christian majority.

    Yes, what is up with the persecution complex of US Christians?

    Shoshie: And, dear Lord, people really need to stop comparing everything to Nazis and the Holocaust. It makes me cranky.

    Won’t happen. Godwin’s Law is still in force.

  16. Yonmei
    Yonmei June 30, 2011 at 3:07 am |

    Girl from Ontario: I don’t understand why people get into service professions and then refuse to serve people.

    They don’t think of the people they’re refusing to serve as people.

  17. UnFit
    UnFit June 30, 2011 at 4:35 am |

    Not to mention it shows that you don’t give a shit about your job, your employer, or your colleagues.

    Welcome to government employment.

  18. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub June 30, 2011 at 4:45 am |

    “Ask your county clerk if they were a Nazi officer during WWII and had been ordered to gas the Jews, would they?”

    I had no idea that a same sex couple getting married was tantamount not just to murder, but genocide.

    In other news, my having to work a half hour late on a Friday night is just like a supervolcano erupting.

  19. Li
    Li June 30, 2011 at 6:11 am |

    Sheelzebub: In other news, my having to work a half hour late on a Friday night is just like a supervolcano erupting.

    On the upside, if the supervolcano is that one under Yellowstone the town clerk is unlikely to have the problem of having to sign queer marriage certificates anymore.

  20. Randomizer
    Randomizer June 30, 2011 at 6:23 am |

    In the Canadian province of Saskatchewan the highest court ruled that a law providing a conscience out for civil marriage commissioners would be unconstitutional and so the province withdrew it.

  21. Randomizer
    Randomizer June 30, 2011 at 6:32 am |

    In a related story, a man in a bar approached a group of tourists to ask from whence they hailed. “Saskatoon, Saskatchewan” replied the visitors. After repeating the question and receiving the same answer several times, he returned to his friends he reported: “they don’t speak English”

  22. Kierra
    Kierra June 30, 2011 at 8:05 am |
    Not to mention it shows that you don’t give a shit about your job, your employer, or your colleagues.

    Welcome to government employment.

    As a hard-working government employee* who spends her days surrounded by many, many other hard-working government employees, I have to wonder if this jab was really necessary.

    *yes, I am posting during work hours. But fyi, I am out sick after throat surgery. So please don’t give me crap about it.

  23. Ellie
    Ellie June 30, 2011 at 8:10 am |

    UnFit: Welcome to government employment.

    … ?

  24. junk
    junk June 30, 2011 at 8:30 am |

    Maybe gay doctors should refuse to provide life-saving medical care to christians… oh snap! Conscience rights go both ways…

  25. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 30, 2011 at 8:32 am |

    I’ve had to turn down some pretty sweet job offers because they involved work on Friday night or Saturday, with conflicts with my Awesome Jewy Sabbath time.

    “Sabbath” isn’t only a Jewish concept.

  26. chava
    chava June 30, 2011 at 8:39 am |

    OK…but shomer shabbes is, and aside from a few sects of Christianity (7th Day Adventist), most Christians view Sunday as the “Sabbath.” Working is frowned on, but not forbidden–and it’s a lot easier to avoid working on Sunday. Witness here in France, where despite “laicité,” it’s ILLEGAL to open your store on Sunday unless you’re in a tourist zoning area
    The Christian sects observing the sabbath also don’t count from Saturday evening (the full 24 hours), AFAIK. (Muslims in majority Muslim countries will often take part/all of Thursday and Friday off as their weekend, but it isn’t a “sabbath”).

    tinfoil hattie:
    I’ve had to turn down some pretty sweet job offers because they involved work on Friday night or Saturday, with conflicts with my Awesome Jewy Sabbath time.

    “Sabbath” isn’t only a Jewish concept.

  27. Florence
    Florence June 30, 2011 at 8:43 am |

    UnFit: Welcome to government employment.

    Yeah, really unimpressed with the faux-cynical, down-with-government-jobs sentiments. Government jobs are good, steady jobs that employ a lot of hard-working and dedicated people that range from trash collectors to teachers to office workers to social workers to elected officials. Don’t be smug in your reductiveness.

  28. L
    L June 30, 2011 at 8:53 am |

    Randomizer: In a related story, a man in a bar approached a group of tourists to ask from whence they hailed. “Saskatoon, Saskatchewan” replied the visitors. After repeating the question and receiving the same answer several times, he returned to his friends he reported: “they don’t speak English”

    Ha!

  29. Shoshie
    Shoshie June 30, 2011 at 9:01 am |

    tinfoil hattie: “Sabbath” isn’t only a Jewish concept.

    Um…yeah? Of course? Why would you think that I wasn’t aware? It’s my Awesome Jewy Sabbath time because I think Shabbat is awesome and I celebrate it in a uniquely Jewish way. I’m sure other people have Awesome [Insert-Religion-Or-Not-Religion]y Sabbath times as well.

    But Sabbath in Judaism, while awesome, is pretty restrictive, i.e., not carrying things outside, using electricity, spending money, driving, traveling far, or cooking from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. Which usually prevents me from doing stuff for jobs during that time. Which, y’know, is much of the point of all the restrictions.

    Also, as chava said, most weekend things are on Saturday or Friday night. I also take jobs with flexible hours so that I can show up and leave early on Fridays in the winter.

    While it’s frustrating, I’m not really complaining because, as a religious minority, I don’t expect society to work around me. Which sorta was my point. That, if these douchnozzles were ACTUALLY marginalized, they probably would have learned long ago that you can’t just opt out of something important for your job because of your religion. So I find their cries of oppression pretty fucking amusing.

  30. Erica
    Erica June 30, 2011 at 9:30 am |

    Florence: Yeah, really unimpressed with the faux-cynical, down-with-government-jobs sentiments. Government jobs are good, steady jobs that employ a lot of hard-working and dedicated people that range from trash collectors to teachers to office workers to social workers to elected officials.Don’t be smug in your reductiveness.

    Right, but I think what they’re saying is that it’s pretty hard to get fired from a government job, so the employees feel more freedom to not do their fucking job already. Just like how it’s hard to get rid of a conscience-clause-claiming pharmacist because of the pharmacist shortage. You don’t see this kind of thing as often in jobs where you’re easily fired and easily replaceable. /formergovernmentworker

  31. Rebecca
    Rebecca June 30, 2011 at 10:02 am |

    My name is Rebecca and I am an Editorial Intern at Teen Voices, a magazine that seeks to support and educate teen girls to amplify their voices and create social change through media. As conservatives in other states continually challenge and defy Roe v. Wade, it is interesting to see how they are using the same arguments to ignore the law on other issues.

  32. Odin
    Odin June 30, 2011 at 10:07 am |

    Gay marriage = the Holocaust? Seriously?

    Someone needs to explain to Ms. MacEwen where the pink triangle as a symbol of the gay rights movement comes from.

  33. Rae
    Rae June 30, 2011 at 10:08 am |

    Why does everyone forget that the Nazis gassed gay people too? It’s nonsensical to compare giving rights to one group of people Hitler tried to exterminate with the gassing of another group Hitler tried to exterminate.

  34. Ellie
    Ellie June 30, 2011 at 11:07 am |

    I hadn’t even made the connection in my mind between the Jewish holocaust and homosexual execution when I first read this. Wow, shit, this is even more offensive than I’d realized at first.

  35. Tom Foolery
    Tom Foolery June 30, 2011 at 11:16 am |

    Kierra: You beat me to it.
    These people want to make a principled stand, but don’t want to actually have to give anything up for their principles.

    Well, if you quit your job, they’d just replace you with someone who WOULD do whatever you were taking a stand against, so I’m not sure this is a valid objection.

    I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with taking a stand against something you’re asked to do by your workplace based on your conscience, and I think it’s a bad idea to make a blanket condemnation against “not doing your job,” especially when you work for the state and are backed up by coercive authority. Should we advocate for the firing of police officers who refuse to arrest people for petty drug offenses? Should we applaud the military for its imprisonment of Bradley Manning and other whistleblowers?

    The problem isn’t WHAT this woman is doing, but WHY she’s doing it. She’s simply in the wrong, morally speaking. That’s where the argument is.

  36. minuteye
    minuteye June 30, 2011 at 11:19 am |

    Jill:
    That said, there has to be an actual religious objection

    Indeed, I don’t recall any bible passage saying “Though shalt not validate a same-sex marriage license”, and it’s not as if doing her job would require this woman to enter into a same-sex marriage of her own.

  37. Heather
    Heather June 30, 2011 at 11:22 am |

    Hopeful:
    A county clerk in another state should start refusing to sign hetero marriage certificates because they find it unethical that same-sex couples don’t have the same rights. Maybe the religious right will give up on conscience rights when they remember they don’t have a monopoly on morality.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3564893.stm

    Not exactly the same thing, but you know.

  38. Captain Awkward
    Captain Awkward June 30, 2011 at 11:27 am |

    Hopeful:
    …Maybe the religious right will give up on conscience rights when they remember they don’t have a monopoly on morality.

    This cannot be said enough: Religious conservatives do not have a monopoly on morality.

    How do we get that message out into the general political discourse so it sticks? I am not religious. But I am still a moral actor with morality.

    I feel like the media just keeps letting conservatives own this argument, like, “Well, THEY have their principles and we need to respect them…blah blah blah…” The frame is always that they are principled while we are just pragmatic. I think we have both pragmatic and principled arguments on the side of justice, equality, etc. How do we get the frame to open up?

  39. Tim
    Tim June 30, 2011 at 11:31 am |

    A few of the county magistrates in Iowa didn’t want to do same-sex wedding civil ceremonies (as opposed to issuing the licenses, which is done by the county clerks) after the SC decision. They are not required by law to do weddings at all, so they were told they could either do all weddings without discrimination or stop completely, which some of them did.

  40. Emolee
    Emolee June 30, 2011 at 11:31 am |

    Jill: “My work place has a lot of observant employees who leave early on Fridays and do not check email or do any sort of work until sundown Saturday. Guess what? The work still gets done and we all live!”

    My work place is the same way, and it’s awesome.

  41. matlun
    matlun June 30, 2011 at 11:41 am |

    minuteye: Indeed, I don’t recall any bible passage saying “Though shalt not validate a same-sex marriage license”, and it’s not as if doing her job would require this woman to enter into a same-sex marriage of her own.

    Of course there is an actual religious objection here. Many (a minority, but still a fair number) Christians do consider same-sex marriage deeply morally wrong.

    I would agree that they should do their job or quit, but to say that they are wrong about what is their own religious beliefs is just silly.

  42. Kierra
    Kierra June 30, 2011 at 11:41 am |

    Well, if you quit your job, they’d just replace you with someone who WOULD do whatever you were taking a stand against

    In theory, the same thing happens if they fire you. The idea of the principled stand is that you hope that your opinion is obvious and wide-spread enough that they won’t be able to find someone who will do that job instead of you. The wingnuts want to codify into law that an employer can’t fire you for not doing your job. I have an issue with that.

    Should we advocate for the firing of police officers who refuse to arrest people for petty drug offenses?

    Yes. We live in a democracy. If police officers want to change the law, they should do so as private citizens like everyone else, not by refusing to do the job that they were hired for.

    Should we applaud the military for its imprisonment of Bradley Manning and other whistleblowers?

    This is a special case. There are specific laws designed specifically to protect whistleblowers, so no we shouldn’t applaud the military for ignoring whistleblower protection laws. Also, whistleblowers are more often than not bringing to light abuses within their organization (generally by their superiors) that are against the overall goals of the organization. That’s why whistleblower laws exist, because it is in the interest of the government to encourage their employees to report instances of abuse that they see.

    The problem isn’t WHAT this woman is doing, but WHY she’s doing it. She’s simply in the wrong, morally speaking. That’s where the argument is.

    Nope. It’s a free country. And she is free to believe whatever off-the-wall garbage she wants to about gay people. And she is perfectly free to opt out of having a job that requires her to give “tacit approval” or whatever to gay marriage. But she does not have the right to force her employer to continue to give her a job that she refuses to do!

  43. glitterary
    glitterary June 30, 2011 at 11:52 am |

    This reminds me of a Christian registrar in the UK who refused to perform civil partnerships on the grounds that it was against her faith.

    “I hold the orthodox Christian view that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life to the exclusion of all others and that this is the God-ordained place for sexual relations. It creates a problem for any Christian if they are expected to do or condone something that they see as sinful. I feel unable to facilitate directly the formation of a union that I sincerely believe is contrary to God’s law.”

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article3972735.ece

    The annoying this is that the borough doesn’t seem to have handled it very well–the registrar managed to convince a court that she was bullied at work as a result of her religion (frankly I don’t think avoiding a colleague who has abhorrent views is bullying) though this was overturned on appeal, because it was shown that her treatment was as a result of her refusal to do her job, not her religion (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/7791660.stm).

    As far as I see it, though, if you’re a government official involved in performing a legal union which doesn’t make any religious statements, religion has nothing to do with it. In the eyes of your god, those people aren’t even married anyway, because they did it in front of you in a registry office, not in front of a religious official in a place of worship. You’re effectively just allowing two people to sign a contract so they can get tax breaks, which is a civil, non-religious thing. I’d have a bit more understanding for refusals to allow readings from religious texts or mention of God in vows at ceremonies you’re officiating, but if it’s just the standard “By the power invested in my by the Borough of Islington, you are now eligible to visit each other in hospital if one of you has an accident!” …yeah. Nothing to do with religion.

  44. Tom Foolery
    Tom Foolery June 30, 2011 at 12:00 pm |

    Kierra: In theory, the same thing happens if they fire you.The idea of the principled stand is that you hope that your opinion is obvious and wide-spread enough that they won’t be able to find someone who will do that job instead of you.The wingnuts want to codify into law that an employer can’t fire you for not doing your job.I have an issue with that.

    Sure, so do I — I think all employment should be at-will, and your employer should be able to fire you for any wacky reason he or she wants to. What I’m saying is, her not quitting isn’t a real objection. She’s actually advancing her cause by staying, whereas by quitting, she won’t.

    Kierra:
    Yes.We live in a democracy.If police officers want to change the law, they should do so as private citizens like everyone else, not by refusing to do the job that they were hired for.

    I question every part of this statement. First off, do we live in a democracy? Given the fact that 72% of people disapprove of the job their congresscreature is doing, and yet incumbency rates have ranged between 85% and 90% for the last four decades, I think “a democracy” is a rather rosy assessment of what we’ve got going on here.

    Second, the drug war, and the subsequent rise of the prison industrial complex represents a civil rights crisis on a similar scale as apartheid and slavery. Both of those things required people who were part of the system to refuse to participate. What you are describing — working from within the system — is precisely the mindset that led so many people at Nuremburg to say “I was only following orders.” (GODWIN, WHAT WHAT).

    Kierra
    This is a special case.There are specific laws designed specifically to protect whistleblowers, so no we shouldn’t applaud the military for ignoring whistleblower protection laws.Also, whistleblowers are more often than not bringing to light abuses within their organization (generally by their superiors) that are against the overall goals of the organization.That’s why whistleblower laws exist, because it is in the interest of the government to encourage their employees to report instances of abuse that they see.

    According to the military’s lawyers, they are operating within the law. Those lawyers, the MPs that arrested Bradley Manning and currently are keeping him locked up, they all have personal consciences they could exercise, but choose not to.

    Kierra
    Nope.It’s a free country.And she is free to believe whatever off-the-wall garbage she wants to about gay people.And she is perfectly free to opt out of having a job that requires her to give “tacit approval” or whatever to gay marriage.But she does not have the right to force her employer to continue to give her a job that she refuses to do!

    To be frank, I’m completely baffled as to how you think this responds to what I said. I didn’t say that she shouldn’t be allowed to believe gays are bad, or that Elvis is still alive, or that her bad emotions are caused by the souls of aliens attached to her. Nor did I say the state doesn’t have the right to fire her — though, given the way public service unions work, they probably don’t, under the law. What I did say that she is wrong about this specific thing, and that’s why what she’s doing is wrong, not because she’s taking a stand of conscience.

  45. Rare Vos
    Rare Vos June 30, 2011 at 12:16 pm |

    Man, this God thing can be used as an excuse for ANYTHING, can’t it. I’m a little jealous of that.

    I don’t like having to wait for the light to turn red to cross the street – POOF! God says I don’t have too.

    I don’t like having to sit next to hellspawn in restaurants – POOF! God says I don’t have too.

    I don’t like acting like an adult – POOF! God says I don’t have too.

    I don’t like having to do the job for which I am paid – POOF! God says I don’t have to.

    That is a seriously handy feature of this religion thing.

  46. Ellie
    Ellie June 30, 2011 at 12:41 pm |

    matlun: Of course there is an actual religious objection here. Many (a minority, but still a fair number) Christians do consider same-sex marriage deeply morally wrong.

    While entering into a gay marriage may or may not be considered a sin according to the bible, is it actually a biblical sin just to allow others to sin? While I can appreciate that some Christians do think it’s wrong, is it wrong to get gay married yourself or is it wrong to allow anyone ever to get gay married? There’s a distinction.

  47. gidget commando
    gidget commando June 30, 2011 at 12:43 pm |

    Kierra: These people want to make a principled stand, but don’t want to actually have to give anything up for their principles.

    DING-DING-DING-DING! We have a winner!

  48. Kierra
    Kierra June 30, 2011 at 1:06 pm |

    While I can appreciate that some Christians do think it’s wrong, is it wrong to get gay married yourself or is it wrong to allow anyone ever to get gay married? There’s a distinction.

    There’s the Sodom and Gomorrah issue. Rightwing Christians believe that these cities got barbequed because they allowed gay people to do whatever they wanted. Therefore the rightwingers are worried that if they gays get rights in the US, the Lord will rain fire and brimstone down upon the whole country and they will get caught in the crossfire if they don’t make a big enough stink to try and prevent it.

  49. Kierra
    Kierra June 30, 2011 at 1:08 pm |

    That should be “the gays” not “they gays”

  50. alessa
    alessa June 30, 2011 at 1:13 pm |

    I do to a certain extent support her right to refuse to do something that supports what she is against. If the Christian right took over and I worked at Planned Parenthood and it became my job to, say, hand out anti-choice leaflets to every person considering abortion, I would be screaming my refusal.

    However, accepting that this is her right, I think that perhaps it should also be perceived as her liability as well. For example, if in every government office that has a person that will refuse to approve a gay marriage, there has to be one who will. By law, in every pharmacy that has someone who will refuse to administer Plan B, there absolutely has to be someone who will. Legally address the issue, and then let these people deal with their own choices. They’ll be hard pressed to find a job if they’re decisions force the government to hire two people for the position of one.

    The only reason I would ever suggest something so friggin complicated is because, ultimately, I can’t help but think it is ultimately her right. She should have to pay for it, though.

    I’m sure people who have actually studied government would laugh at that. Sorry, just musing.

  51. matlun
    matlun June 30, 2011 at 1:28 pm |

    Ellie: While entering into a gay marriage may or may not be considered a sin according to the bible, is it actually a biblical sin just to allow others to sin? While I can appreciate that some Christians do think it’s wrong, is it wrong to get gay married yourself or is it wrong to allow anyone ever to get gay married? There’s a distinction.

    Sure. That is all a theological discussion. The ins and outs of which is the “true” interpretation and the “true” version of Christianity has been an area of discussion for millennia now.

    I am not a Christian myself and so do not believe any version of the religion is true, and I also believe that homophobia is morally wrong.

    However, there is no contradiction in an honestly held religious belief being morally despicable. I see no reason to doubt that the woman was acting according to her beliefs.

  52. Jaice
    Jaice June 30, 2011 at 11:17 pm |

    My family and formerly I were all Seventh Day Adventists (SDA), and are of Jewish ethnicity. Both in my family and many that I knew SDA Sabbath observance was from sundown Friday til sundown Sat (the full 24). We did all chores and cooking in advance of sundown and there was little to distinguish our practice from Orthodox practice except that whole Jesus is the savior bit.

    While it is not my practice anymore, I remember the trouble I had taking the SAT because I couldn’t take it on Sabbath. I remember the crap my first employer gave me about not being able to schedule me for two of our three busiest times (and for wearing a ankle length shirt and head covering). But while I was at work I served all my customers. I didn’t ask every customer buying cigarettes or beer (even though at the time consuming those products was against my religious beliefs) to get in line at another register. I was in a public supermarket and a public cashier. My allowing those folks to purchase wine was not in fact forcing them to sin. They were adults with the God endorsed right to make choices and ultimately mistakes for themselves.

    Her choice as a public employee to assume that by withholding these licenses that she will what…prevent folks from being gay…force gay people to accept second class citizenship…be allowed to control the state mandated rights of citizens…or just reinforce the idea that the only people who are people are the people just like her…are the same choices that eventually alienated me from organized religion and then Christianity in general. Christ’s teachings of loving kindness are not theories of political maneuvering, but ones of accepting people as they are, leading by example, and being peace minded.

    Beyond that the Constitution posits that church and state are separate entities precisely because civil was never intended to be spiritual. The Founding Fathers knew that mixing religion and politics was just going to lead to the same political structure that they were attempting to declare independence from. And that structure was one of discrimination, violence and death. Those Fathers had a vision for a peaceful government that would not be caught in the trap of debating the religious conscience of the nation, but rather one that would work equally and fairly for all of its citizens.

  53. mephistephanies
    mephistephanies July 1, 2011 at 10:14 am |

    Uh, hey guys? She is 75.

    My grandmother was born in 1930, so she was 30 years old by the time The Civil Rights movement was full-swing. She doesn’t think it’s right for people not of the same race to marry because “they come from backgrounds that are too different”.

    She isn’t a bad person, or racist really…she’s just a product of her generation. This woman is from Northern New York, which is quite rural, and she is nearly 80. Come on. There are much better things to be upset about.

  54. Blue Jean
    Blue Jean July 1, 2011 at 10:58 am |

    If she’s really principled, then she should quit her job rather than do something against her beliefs. Otherwise, she’s just posing. Methinks she wants to wear the halo without shouldering the cross.

  55. Hershele Ostropoler
    Hershele Ostropoler July 1, 2011 at 11:02 am |

    I have a long speech (by blog-comment measures) on this, and then some replies.
    Can a, say, Pentacostalist letter carrier refuse to deliver hardcore porn, if anyone still gets their hardcore porn through the mail? When they have, I don’t think they’ve typically gotten away with it.

    Can this Pentacostalist letter carrier refuse to deliver Playboy?

    How about the Victoria’s Secret catalogue? A&F? Time or TV Guide if there are women the P.l.c. feels are scantily clad?

    How about a body-mod magazine, not for the skin per se but because the Bible forbids tattoos?

    More hypothetically, can a Hasidic letter carrier refuse to deliver anything with photos of women to someone with a Jewish name?

    Because I have a Jewish name myself, and live on the outskirts of a Hassidic enclave (though Munkatcher rather than Satmarer), I get a lot of Jewish cultural activity-related mail. Can our P.l.c. refuse to deliver it, on the grounds that involvement with Jewish life keeps me from finding Christ?

    Can a Christian Scientist FedEx delivery person refuse to deliver my medication? It’s sub-q, can a Jehovah’s Witness delivery person refuse? Can someone who takes the Biblical prohibition on tattooing to include injections?

    Annaleigh: Dammit. *sigh* I’m sorry to see NY has an equivalent to my local county clerk in here in California (that would be Kern County), who refused to perform civic marriage ceremonies for everyone so that she could weasel out of doing her job.

    That, at least, is honest. It’s not quite quitting in protest, but it’s close. She wasn’t claiming the right to discriminate in the name of her religion.

    Well, she was, kinda, but it was more of a general protest.

    Shoshie: I’m not really complaining because, as a religious minority, I don’t expect society to work around me.

    I do. Not in the sense that I should be able to just get away with whatever, but I am as entitled to have evrything run in accordance with my beliefs and practices as anyone else. We’re not — atleast, we shouldn’t be — a mainstream Protestant society that makes allowances for everyone else.

    Ellie: While entering into a gay marriage may or may not be considered a sin according to the bible, is it actually a biblical sin just to allow others to sin?

    I can’t speak to Christan religions, but the Yom Kippur confession liturgy mentions “deceiving our fellows.” My guess, as an amateur dilattante theologian, is that helping people sin is almost as bad as sinning yourself, and you have an obligation not to add to the amount of sinning in the world.

  56. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig July 1, 2011 at 11:14 am |

    Captain Awkward:This cannot be said enough: Religious conservatives do not have a monopoly on morality.

    How do we get that message out into the general political discourse so it sticks? I am not religious. But I am still a moral actor with morality.
    No, you’re an ethical person, that’s all. Morals are religious: you do this thing because G*d says it’s right, ethics are philosophical, you do this thing because you have concluded it’s the right thing to do. Morals and ethics are not the same.

  57. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig July 1, 2011 at 11:17 am |

    How do we get that message out into the general political discourse so it sticks? I am not religious. But I am still a moral actor with morality
    Failed again, this part is Captain Awkward’s comment, not mine. But I still maintain that one can be an ethical person without being moral, and as in this case, one can also be moral but unethical.

  58. DouglasG
    DouglasG July 1, 2011 at 10:43 pm |

    I could see room for a tiny window of sympathy given the change in the law, although, on the other hand, laws do change all the time and civil servants really ought to be prepared for laws that affect them to change in ways they might find objectionable. But it does seem as if someone might take a job with a reasonable expectation that the job will not require one to act against one’s conscience.

    What irks me most is how it seems at least potentially acceptable to be so vague about something that has a significant effect upon one’s job performance. Sabbath observances, given as an example in this thread, are reasonably clear in terms of what an employer might need to know, are something of which many non-observers will have at least some slight awareness, and can easily be explained or verified. But this town clerk thinks she can simply play the Conscience Card without substantiation and thereby deprive people to a significant extent of a public service to which they are clearly entitled? I more or less agree with Ms Jill about the other window possibility; it would be irksome, but probably not worth expenditure of political capital. But in this case, if she is going to attempt to cause considerable public inconvenience, she ought at least to provide clerical documentation in support of her position, especially in view of the Biblical argument cited in favour of her Doing Her Job.

    It reminds me a little of how so many people seem to think that the simple statement, “I’m Christian,” provides full and adequate explanation for any anti-gay prejudice. Never mind all those other Christians who don’t hold the same prejudice.

  59. Medea
    Medea July 2, 2011 at 2:48 am |

    mephistephanies: She isn’t a bad person, or racist really…she’s just a product of her generation.

    Goodness, that reminds me of a classmate who said that his grandparents used the n-word to describe black people, “but they’re not racist, they’re just old and they live in the South and that’s how they speak.”

    It’s not as if your opinions are sealed in stone by the age of thirty, so that no enlightenment can touch you afterward and free you from your bigotry.

  60. SnowdropExplodes
    SnowdropExplodes July 2, 2011 at 6:59 am |

    In fact, the Campaign for Children and their Families, a wholesale anti-gay lobbying group in California, has equated the issuing of gay marriage licenses to mindless compliance during the Holocaust. “Ask your county clerk if they were a Nazi officer during WWII and had been ordered to gas the Jews, would they?”

    The thing they seem to be forgetting is that, if a German Army officer under the Nazis made a principled stand on the issue of gassing Jews, then what would have been the consequences of taking that stand? Probably a LOT worse than simply losing his job, we might imagine. To oppose the Nazi Party in Germany between 1933 and 1945 most likely required some serious backbone and principles. People literally risked their lives to help Jews avoid the extermination camps, and some of them lost their lives as a result.

    To suggest that there is even the slightest moral equivalence between the two situations is hugely disgusting. It’s like Kierra said:

    These people want to make a principled stand, but don’t want to actually have to give anything up for their principles.

    They also want to claim that they are equivalent to people who had to give up everything for their principles at the same time as giving up nothing.

  61. Blue Jean
    Blue Jean July 2, 2011 at 1:04 pm |

    *ahem* MacEwen does realize that Nazis persecuted homosexuals as well as Jewish folks, doesn’t she? Or doesn’t she care about that?

  62. Hershele Ostropoler
    Hershele Ostropoler July 2, 2011 at 2:43 pm |

    Medea:

    Medea: that reminds me of a classmate who said that his grandparents used the n-word to describe black people, “but they’re not racist, they’re just old and they live in the South and that’s how they speak.”

    I suppose that can be understood as “it’s a lot easier to change your beliefs, especially gradually, than to change your terminology,” though I don’t know if I buy that. Not all racism is alike, and picking up the n-word in childhood and using it for the next 80 years, particularly if you don’t otherwise exhibit racist beliefs or engage in racist behaviors, is a different kind if not degree of racism than picking it up in your 20s in 2011.

    As for the clerk, in the private sector she wouldn’t get to not do part of her job because it legitimized homosexuality whatever her religion is. I’ve looked at Federal and NYS EEO guidelines, and it specifically brings up people with religious objections to homosexual behavior serving people who wish to engage in homosexual behavior, and it says they gotta do it. If she worked in a hotel, and two men wanted one room with one bed, she couldn’t refuse even if there was someone else available to do it who wasn’t being ridiculous.

  63. honeyandlocusts
    honeyandlocusts July 2, 2011 at 11:31 pm |

    If I as a priest have to give Communion to Republicans in the course of doing my job, then this lady definitely has to sign marriage licenses.

  64. Bex
    Bex July 3, 2011 at 11:57 am |

    Kierra: The wingnuts want to codify into law that an employer can’t fire you for not doing your job.

    But don’t you dare think that you can form a union and fight against being fired just because your boss needed that job for his wife’s cousin’s kid, y’all!

  65. Obstreperous V
    Obstreperous V July 3, 2011 at 2:36 pm |

    That’s completely ridiculous. If she can’t perform the functions of her job, she should shut her hate hole and quit.

    Apparently, every time a same-sex couple gets married, a Fundie Christian goes to the gas chambers.

  66. Jen
    Jen July 13, 2011 at 6:04 pm |

    Alright, they lose automatically. The invoked the Nazis/Hitler.

    Some Internet rules just transfer so seamlessly to real life, it’s scary.

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