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Nobody appears to have picked up on this story yet, so you're stuck with my take on it. Just so you're warned, some ranting is included further down.

As most here know, voters in the state of Maryland recently voted to reaffirm a marriage equality bill passed this spring by the state legislature and signed by Governor O'Malley. The vote in favor, which took place because the usual subjects insisted upon placing the legislation on the ballot for a "citizens' veto" was somewhat close, but we won by 52% to 48%. This is, of course, a demonstration of why civil rights really should NEVER (thanks to all who pointed out the missing word) be subjected to the "will of the majority." But this year for the first time ever, all three states with marriage equality on their ballots voted to uphold or reinstate previously passed legislation favoring marriage equality, while Minnesotans disapproved a ballot measure seeking to insert hate into the state's Constitution.

As with all such victories, there's always a bit of mop-up to be done.

Follow me over the Great Orange Croissant and I'll give you some news plus a bit of personal opinion (which sounds far better than "rant," don't you agree?)

I came across this story on the LGBT news blog Towleroad.com blog but it originally appeared in yesterday's Washington Examiner. The Examiner is a free, DC-area local paper owned by arch-conservative Philip Anschutz. It's format is similar to the that of the San Francisco Examiner, which began its life as a Hearst-owned tabloid, was purchased by one local and converted into a freebie, then purchased by Anschutz's organization and then later on re-sold. As far as I can tell Anschutz seems to give the local editorial boards pretty much free reign in their coverage.

Saint Mary's County, MD is located about 60 miles southeast of DC, beyond Charles County. It's bounded by the Patuxent River, the Potomac River, Chesapeake Bay and Charles County and is sufficiently close to DC that at least some folks work in DC but live there. The marriage equality measure lost there by a vote of 44%-56%.

Joan Williams, clerk of the Saint Mary's County Circuit Court (I presume that state circuit courts coincide with county boundaries in Maryland), has decided, in her infinite wisdom, that any deputy clerk that does not wish to marry same-sex couples will have all of their marriage-related duties reassigned to others.

"There are some [deputy clerks] that have voiced some opposition to doing it -- [they have] religious feelings about it ... so it's basically my idea that they won't do any marriage at all," said Joan Williams, clerk of the St. Mary's County Circuit Court. "Some people are just very against same-sex marriages, and I have to respect their reasons and their decisions."
I suppose that beats having the entire county administration refuse to comply with the law. At the same time however I see a rather significant disconnect:

I myself am a civil servant, though I work for a different entity than Ms Williams. I've been at my job for 36 years now. When I was hired it was impressed upon me that as a civil servant it was my duty to discharge my obligations without regard to my personal preferences and prejudices. I always presumed that anyone who works for any branch of government, from the smallest locality up to the highest level of the federal government, is under a similar obligation: to provide legally-authorized services to ALL members of the public, not just those members of whom they "approve."

I wonder how it would fare were some of her clerks to say that they wouldn't record the marriages of Catholic couples, of Jewish couples, of Hindu couples, of atheist couples, of couples one of whom was not a US citizen or who was from out of state, of couples one or both of whom had previously been divorced, of unattractive couples, of mixed-race couples. I know the response I'd get from my superiors on that score:

    "Your job is to serve the public on an equal basis. If you don't wish to serve certain members of the public then perhaps you'd best find a different line of work.  In fact we insist that you do so. Immediately."

I'm really not sure why any manager within any branch of government would want to grant leave to one of their subordinates to refuse to perform their job because, basically, they don't like the people they're tasked with serving. There, I've said it. That is my view on so-called "conscience clauses." They insert personal preference for equal service.

On another note, the same article goes on to observe that certain wedding photographers have claimed they don't want to handle gay or lesbian weddings because they "don't know how to pose" same-sex couples. Two things to consider here: At least they're being honest in admitting that, in effect, they don't know how to do their job. Additionally, it strikes me, as an amateur photographer, that if there's something I don't know how to do, then it's always a good idea to acquire a new skill.

End of rant.

Originally posted to sfbob on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 04:15 PM PST.

Also republished by Kossacks for Marriage Equality.

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  •  Tip Jar (174+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jessical, librarisingnsf, Patriot4peace, bhut jolokia, skyounkin, civil wingnut, Dallasdoc, Cassandra Waites, cany, Melanie in IA, peacestpete, lotac, detroitmechworks, vacantlook, BlackSheep1, celdd, susanala, eeff, javan, diffrntdrummr, WheninRome, concernedamerican, swampyankee, old wobbly, Dave in Northridge, Lujane, FarWestGirl, jacey, pico, jwinIL14, Steve In DC, Tara the Antisocial Social Worker, andgarden, cloudbustingkid, gloriana, kyril, karmsy, gizmo59, Liberal Of Limeyland, BlueJessamine, Hastur, Glen The Plumber, dharmafarmer, TechBob, Chrislove, wayoutinthestix, MazeDancer, Walt starr, janmtairy, deha, radarlady, Pandora, SottoVoce, anotherdemocrat, The Marti, alasmoses, Bule Betawi, Buckeye54, JesseCW, roses, profundo, shesaid, Jay C, Massconfusion, Tool, SusiesPurl, gooderservice, armadillo, jolux, luckylizard, buddhistMonkey, Scioto, BRog, aintnoreason, liz dexic, dotsright, Munchkn, pickandshovel, Edward Adams, Killer of Sacred Cows, rb608, Raven Song, revsue, tofumagoo, DFWmom, 84thProblem, Ckntfld, Manny, belinda ridgewood, Angie in WA State, claytonben, Mentatmark, Calamity Jean, sethtriggs, pragmaticidealist, susans, petulans, marleycat, boadicea, Chaddiwicker, weatherdude, remembrance, bythesea, Debby, dear occupant, Clytemnestra, Wes Clark Democrat, NonnyO, Matilda, Crazy Moderate, Larsstephens, splashy, newpioneer, ladybug53, suesue, mofembot, Calouste, MartyM, coppercelt, Robynhood too, Jeffersonian Democrat, BlueInARedState, banjolele, Bill in Portland Maine, lcs, Colorado is the Shiznit, matx, majcmb1, TFinSF, sobermom, BlogDog, leonard145b, Rumarhazzit, stlsophos, multilee, DvCM, Josita Downes, MBNYC, davelf2, Stein, sable, weaponsofmassdeception, Apost8, Smoh, Oh Mary Oh, Transactivist, ewmorr, deebee, Only Needs a Beat, WI Deadhead, slowbutsure, jayden, xynz, Matt Z, TexDem, Darmok, enhydra lutris, science nerd, mikeconwell, glorificus, middleagedhousewife, skrekk, pademocrat, Avilyn, craigkg, No one gets out alive, Chitown Kev, exNYinTX, Mathazar, trumpeter, madhaus, blueoasis, Bronx59, HeyMikey
  •  Bob - you're trying to being logic into this (60+ / 0-)

    when it's pretty darned clear that the other side has totally abandoned any pretense of being logical... except for being IDEOlogical -

    This appears to be yet another case of ideologues allowing their personal dogma to override the obligation of their office to treat all citizens fairly.

    This smacks of the same lunacy as pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions because of some "personal conflict".

    If you cannot fulfill the obligations of your job, FIND A DIFFERENT ONE!

    Help American return to sanity - vote the GOP OUT OF the House Majority and reduce their numbers in the Senate in 2014 elections. America requires Democratic action in order to survive!

    by dagnome on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 04:22:46 PM PST

  •  Louisiana JP Keith Bardwell resigned when... (23+ / 0-)

    ...he was unable to perform the duities of his position.

  •  Imagine a tax collector that didn't believe in (40+ / 0-)

    taxes. The possibilities are endless.

    I completely agree with you.

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 04:29:56 PM PST

  •  The clerk's job is to execute the duties of her (51+ / 0-)

    office.  Those duties include performing marriages.  The law is the law.  This is bullshit.

    "Differences in political opinion are as unavoidable as, to a certain point, they may perhaps be necessary." George Washington

    by civil wingnut on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 04:31:02 PM PST

  •  Do I understand (36+ / 0-)

    this?

    Most people interface with their government at their department of Motor Vehicles. In Maryland, it's the MVA.

    So let's put this in perspective.

    A clerk at the counter at the MVA makes it a work related  issue that they wish to have a threshold, or a certain criteria of who they will issue a license to and who they will not.

    Should we then have a "white protestant" line next to a "Latino Catholic" line? Blue eyed people line up here, everyone else has to get in the really really long line only to find out that the worker for the green eyed girls called in sick today?

    Somebody in St. Mary's County is going to get fired.

    We've been spelling it wrong all these years. It's actually: PRO-GOP-ANDA

    by Patriot4peace on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 04:31:06 PM PST

  •  We used to have the "Mommy Track"... (24+ / 0-)

    Can we get the "Bigot Track"?

    Yeah, it's clear that you don't want to do your job.  That's fine.  We'll lower your responsibilities, rank and compensation...

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 04:37:50 PM PST

  •  Those taxpayers could choose to no longer (27+ / 0-)

    employ those civil servants opposed to performing their lawful duties.

    "God bless us, every one!" ~ T. Tim

    by jwinIL14 on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 04:53:14 PM PST

  •  I'm a Marylander... (41+ / 0-)

    And this is not gonna fly.This isn't Texas or Alabama or Tennessee. Any public servant that doesn't want to perform duties ascribed to them by the legislature AND the majority of it's citizens ought to to be told in no uncertain terms that they can do their job or leave. There are plenty of unemployed out there that would love the job, so show the whiners the door.

    •  you mean they can't refuse to marry interracial (16+ / 0-)

      couples in maryland if it bugs them?

      Coming Attraction: "Tea Party II - now with more stupid!"

      by memofromturner on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:03:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Marylander here too, (17+ / 0-)

      although St. Mary's and those other counties I never go to are just this side of Deliverance......

      The deputy should be fired. Marrying people garners fees for the state.

      •  No reason to fire her, she's well within the bound (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        winsock, sethtriggs, mikeconwell

        of EEOC rules regarding religious accomodations in this case.  

        Gay couples will be married in St Mary's County, and the clerks who have religious objections to conducting those ceremonies won't conduct any wedding ceremonies, gay or straight, at all.

        Dont Mourn, Organize !#konisurrender

        by cks175 on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:46:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm curious... (20+ / 0-)

          Does this also mean clerks don't have to marry Muslim, Jewish, or black couples if it's against their religion? It's the law, and these deputy clerks should have to abide by it.

        •  If a clerk were to voice a religious objection (17+ / 0-)

          to performing any other sort of legal marriage than one involving two people of the same gender, do you think that would be acceptable? Do you think a reasonable supervisor would accept that from a subordinate?

          "I can't marry them; her bag doesn't match her shoes!"

          "I can't marry them; they look funny!"

          "I can't marry them; he's white and she's Asian!"

          •  If it's possible to re-assign... (14+ / 0-)

            and still keep them fully employed, then I don't see a problem with it, though the deputies are still bigoted jerks for their stance. (and see below...) At least the clerk's office is taking them off of ALL marriage license duties. If it ever comes to the point where there's discriminatory behavior - i.e. it takes longer for a gay person to get a license, or there's a separate gay line, or gays can't come in on Tuesday afternoons - then it's time to start firing unnecessary staff (i.e. the ones who won't do the work that's available).

            In the meantime, I'd suggest the clerk's office educate these morans [sic] on the difference between a civil marriage certificate and marriage sanctioned by the employee's church. Civil marriage is SECULAR - that means no religious bias, and it means that the employee's refusal to issue one is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Yes, that means that the employee is potentially a detriment to his employer and should consider seeking other work. Perhaps the firing won't come today, but being re-assigned to limited (i.e. non-marriage) duties means you're less useful to the employer than a fully capable employee, and that might reflect on future HR decisions.

            Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

            by Phoenix Rising on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:50:28 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  It opens a whole can of worms (9+ / 0-)

              The DMV clerk who thinks it's immoral to issue a driver's license to someone who had DUI's on their record will need to be accommodated.  And then the Christian fundamentalist who thinks that Islam is satanic will have to be accommodated so that she doesn't have to issue a building permit for a mosque.  And then the Muslim health inspector will have to be accommodated because they don't want to have to inspect pork.

              If you can't fully do your job, find another.  Don't expect the world to accommodate your bigotry.

              •  That was the point (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Justanothernyer, glorificus

                The County Clerk was finding a particular deputy a new job, in a different office within the same division.

                Teh stoopidTM, it hurts. Buy smart, union-printed, USA-made, signs, stickers, swag for everyone: DemSign.com. Get your We are the 99% Yard Sign.

                by DemSign on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 07:54:40 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Too late. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                MRA NY, Justanothernyer, VClib
                If you can't fully do your job, find another.  Don't expect the world to accommodate your bigotry.
                If by "bigotry" you are referring to certain religious beliefs, then yes, some types of bigotry are protected by the First Amendment and the Civil Rights laws.  

                See what the EEOC says on the subject.

                I don't know enough about these particular employees or  this particular job situation to know whether this involved some "sincerely held" "religious belief" that required "reasonable accommodation" or not under the Civil Rights laws.  However, I think that the solution reached here was reasonable.  

                But your position -- that a religious belief that you believe is bigoted should never be protected or accommodated -- is contrary to both the Constitution and the Civil Rights laws.  In some instances, religious beliefs, bigoted or not, are entitled to both.  

                •  Apples and oranges there. (5+ / 0-)

                  From EEOC Religious Discrimination:

                  The law requires an employer or other covered entity to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden on the operations of the employer's business. This means an employer may be required to make reasonable adjustments to the work environment that will allow an employee to practice his or her religion.

                  Examples of some common religious accommodations include flexible scheduling, voluntary shift substitutions or swaps, job reassignments, and modifications to workplace policies or practices.

                  That certainly means an employer has to allow religious garb unless it provably interferes with the job. It means an employer has to make reasonable accommodation for prayer or mandated observances unless that prevents job performance. What is nowhere in any EEOC guidance is that an employer has to accommodate religious based bigotry or exclusivity, beliefs or practices that discriminate against those the business or agency serves.

                  Yes indeed, head garb is covered. Moments to pray are covered. Shift changes to accommodate religious observances are covered. Religious discrimination toward others on the job or being served, "I don't serve those particular customers because . . .," is in no way covered.

                  The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

                  by pelagicray on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 05:47:03 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Why does that mean that the supervisor (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Justanothernyer, VClib

                    can't assign duties so as to accommodate religious beliefs?  

                    Why can't a supervisor say, performing marriages is 10% of what this office does, we have 5 employees, so you three will be the only ones who perform marriages, and the other two will do more of the other 90% of the duties?  

                    I can't see any problem with that.  It's fair to the workers (nobody is working any more than anybody else), It's fair to the people coming in to be married (they get no disruption in service and are served by people who have no reservations about serving them, which makes for a better experience for them) and for the supervisory, it avoids any potential claim (which is always disruptive) whether that claim would be successful or not.  

                    I really, really don't see a downside here.

                    •  It is really pretty straightforward. (5+ / 0-)

                      If the basic job description for that office is performance of civil marriage, no religious overtones at all, just the state's endorsing a contract between individuals, making such accommodations involves the state in prejudicial behavior. That is the "moral" issue here.

                      If this were not a state function I'd be less interested. Personally I think allowing religious prejudice to govern in any state or state licensed function is a violation of the establishment clause. Thus a state licensed pharmacist refusing any prescription on personal or religious belief grounds becomes the state's issue. Revocation of license is the remedy.

                      Nothing in your misreading of EEOC guidance requires an employer to accommodate an employee's discriminatory or objectionable behavior toward other employees or those being served. That guidance involves the employee's passive behavior, garb for example, or need for time and schedule for private religious expression. EEOC guidance for example would not require an employer to "accommodate" a food server "required" to loudly pray over every dish served. That would in fact violate the customer's religious rights.

                      That is where you and others are just missing the boat here; state involvement and active religious prejudice against others while on the job.

                      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

                      by pelagicray on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 06:43:08 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Well here's what you don't know. (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Justanothernyer, VClib
                        If the basic job description for that office is performance of civil marriage, no religious overtones at all, just the state's endorsing a contract between individuals, making such accommodations involves the state in prejudicial behavior. That is the "moral" issue here.
                        What appears to have happened is that these employees were reassigned into jobs where they don't perform any marriages.  At all.  For any one.  

                        And EEOC guidelines make no distinction about the KIND of religious belief.  Legally, EEOC CAN'T say, well, this religious belief is bigoted to others, so we won't accommodate it.  The law CAN'T distinguish between "good" and "bad" religious beliefs.  

                        I have said over and over that we don't know whether this kind of thing is the kind of thing protected under the  Civil Rights laws addressing accommodation for religious beliefs because I'm unaware of a case to this effect.  But the Civil Rights laws are intentionally written in an open-ended way, because it's a case by case situation.  

                        This clerk basically said, ok, we can, without too much trouble, and without disruption in our service to the public,  have other people perform all the marriages and you won't do any but you'll do more of other tasks.   I see no problem with that, and it's the kind of thing that would be a "reasonable accommodation."  

                        •  And, as I've said, in a purely private business (5+ / 0-)

                          that is the owner's right, though not required by EEOC. You will not find anywhere in EEOC guidance a mandate to accommodate an employee's active behavior prejudicial to other employees or customers.

                          What makes this problematic is that the official doing the reassignments is a functionary of the state, an office holder, now making a public gesture and  statement establishing one religious belief prejudicial to citizens that other policy of the state treats without prejudice. The state certifies those citizens have a right to civil marriage. The clerk, an official of the state, has gone on record in "accommodating" other civil servant's religious belief those citizens do not have that civil right.

                          What I see here is very definitely an establishment clause issue. I'd love to see a lawsuit directed toward that clerk and the office on those grounds. I think it is past time this "religious escape clause" for state functions and state licensed functions be challenged on those grounds.

                          The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

                          by pelagicray on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 07:19:12 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  It took about 3 minutes to find that mandate. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            VClib

                            If what you call " an employee's active behavior prejudicial to other employees or customers" qualifies as a "sincerely held" "religious belief" under the law , then yes, the Civil Rights laws DO require that an employer make "reasonable accommodations" for those religious beliefs.  

                            And a government employer has an additional burden, because the government employer is bound by the First Amendment's "Free Exercise" clause, while a private employer is not.  

                            The disconnect between your comments and my comments is whether "an employee's active behavior prejudicial to other employees or customers" constitutes a "sincerely held" "religious belief" under the law.

                            Let me direct you to the case of Walden v. CDC & Prevention, 699 F.3d 1277 a case from the 11th Circuit this past February. There, the employee, a counselor, took the position that her religious beliefs prevented her from counseling same-sex couples.  The Court accepted the argument that this was a "sincerely held" "religious belief."  And it recognized that a "reasonable accommodation would be for her to refer same-sex couples to other counselors.  Her religious discrimination claim failed she was fired NOT because she made the referral, but because of the way she handled the referral.

                            There's your a mandate to accommodate what you call  "an employee's active behavior prejudicial to other employees or customers" and the accommodation was to allow her to make referrals.  She was fired because of all the other things she said when making those referrals.  She had a right to be allowed not to deal with people when she had a "sincerely held" "religious belief" that prevented her to do so, and the reasonable accommodation was to allow her to make a referral.  What was not allowed was for her to make judgmental statements in the process of making that referral.  

                            Here's a long quote from the case:

                            We accept that Ms. Walden's sincerely held religious beliefs prohibit her from encouraging or supporting same-sex relationships through counseling. There is no need to engage in the Pickering balancing test here, however, because Ms. Walden cannot point to any evidence that Dr. Chosewood or Ms. Zerbe "burdened one of [her] 'sincerely held religious beliefs.'" Watts v. Fla. Int'l Univ., 495 F.3d 1289, 1294 (11th Cir. 2007) (quoting Frazee v. Ill. Dep't of Emp't Sec., 489 U.S. 829, 834, 109 S. Ct. 1514, 1517, 103 L. Ed. 2d 914 (1989)). The record is devoid of evidence supporting Ms. Walden's claim that either defendant called for her removal from the EAP contract due to her religiously-based  [*22] need to refer clients who needed same-sex relationship counseling.

                            Instead, the record is clear that Dr. Chosewood and Ms. Zerbe removed Ms. Walden because of the manner in which she handled Ms. Doe's referral, and because they were concerned that she would behave the same way if a similar situation were to arise in the future. And, significantly, Ms. Walden testified that it was not part of her "religious beliefs" to tell clients, including Ms. Doe, that she could not counsel them due to her religious beliefs or personal values. Instead, she said she wanted "to be honest with my clients." Rec., doc. 82 at 291-92. She further explained that "it seemed unfair that [Ms. Doe] was able to talk about being gay and lesbian, and yet I couldn't freely talk about me and my religious beliefs, or being Christian . . . . To me, it's about honesty. If she can be honest — I mean, I should be honest about why I'm transferring her." Id. at 311-12.

                            Dr. Chosewood testified that he disapproved of how Ms. Walden handled Ms. Doe's referral. He explained that merely referring Ms. Doe due to Ms. Walden's religious conflict "would not have been problematic at all, but sharing her objections to this patient's  [*23] circumstances, her life, I felt was inappropriate." Id., doc. 108 at 27. When asked whether it would have been appropriate for Ms. Walden to state, "Based on my personal beliefs, I don't feel I'm the best counselor for you," Dr. Chosewood replied:
                            There again, I feel like that statement has some — has some bias in it, it has some judgmental tone in it. There are many people who believe that homosexuality is like eye color or color of skin, you know. There's good science that supports that, as well. I would not be happy with her saying something like, you know, "My personal belief doesn't allow me to see someone of your color." To me, that's — it's just not appropriate in that very vulnerable setting when patients are coming to you maybe at their neediest time.

                            So I feel like a referral, perfectly fine. And — but to share, to give any, really, sort of expression of judgment or of displeasure with someone else's situation or choices or life, to me, is not — it does  [*1287]  not further the therapeutic relationship in any way.
                            Id. at 37-38. Dr. Chosewood also emphasized that:

                          •  So you may be interested in some other legal (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Angie in WA State

                            advice in "Religious Accommodation Under Federal Law: The Essentials, John R. Nicholson, Asst. Attorney General Washington State Attorney General’s Office" (.pdf):

                            Public employer not required to violate Establishment Clause.
                            • Employer may consider impacts on customers and
                            business.
                            • Employer may be able prohibit employee’s expression if customers or the public would mistakenly believe the expression is the employer’s.

                            And this, with case cites that include Walden, "Conservatives Counseling Gay or Lesbian Clients," indicates the "free speech" issue is limited. What is clear is that an employer has to be reasonably consistent as in the Ward v. Polite case with my emphasis:

                            The school had allowed other referrals for other reasons, so it may have treated Ms. Ward differently based on her religious convictions, and may have been trying to compel her to alter or violate her beliefs.  While this is not the end, the Sixth Circuit reversed the order for summary judgment and sent the case back to the district court.
                            As I said, I'd really like to see this specific case in which the first and second bullets in the Washington State Attorney General’s Office briefing above seem to apply litigated from the establishment clause perspective. It would make a very interesting ACLU decision whether to support the religious views contrary to the mandated state function of that office or the appearance of that office violating the establishment clause.

                            In my purely private citizen's view I am not bothered at all by requirements employers accommodate an employee's reasonable religious requirements and needs even when the requirement and need are to me ridiculous. I am bothered by state recognition and accommodation of religious prejudice toward other employees and citizens in connection with the official civil duties of the office or license. In those cases the individuals can go purely private or an unlicensed field and not involve the state in supporting their prejudices.

                            The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

                            by pelagicray on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:56:42 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Again, you are misconstruing the law. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            VClib

                            I think you are mixing two different things.  "Reasonable accommodation" of an employee's religious beliefs has never, ever as far as I know been construed as state recognition, or adoption, of those views as its own.  I can't imagine any scenario under which a supervisor said (as in the Walden case) if there are members of the public you for whom you can't perform service A, you just won't perform service A for anybody, but you'll be reassigned to other services, that would be construed as anything CLOSE to a violation of the Establishment Cause.

                            That link says EXACTLY the same things I have been saying.  What you found is a slide in an area that discusses what is a "reasonable accommodation."  And what that slide is referring to is an area of the law that says that, if the accommodation would lead the public to believe that the employer has adopted those views as his own, or is promoting those views, then that's not a reasonable accommodation.  For example, if an employee's "religious belief" would require a very very large sign at any location where they spend more than 1 hour a day saying "There is no God; Religion is for fools," then hanging that sign up is NOT going to be a reasonable accommodation, because a reasonable person coming into the location would think that sign reflects the views of the employer.  But accommodating the religious views of an employee is NOT considered by the law to be a statement that the employer has ADOPTED those religious views.  

                            Other instances where that slide you are reading might come into play is when religious beliefs require an employee to say certain things, or look a certain way, when dealing with the public -- AND those things would lead a reasonable person to conclude that the religious views being supported were views imposed by the employer and were the employer's views.  That's a case by case determination.  By the way, that's one of the problems the employee had in Walden -- simply referring people to another worker was completely proper and not a problem. It would not have been considered an adoption of those views by the employer, or an establishment clause violation.  Lecturing the people she referred on a particular religious view WAS a problem.  

                            The solution derived here completely avoids any possibility of that happening.  The people with the religious beliefs affecting marriage are not going to be dealing with marriage at all.  The person coming into the location for marriage will not deal with them at all.  There's no possible way that that reasonable accommodation could be construed as the workplace ENDORSING those religious views.  The laws sees a distinction between reasonably accommodating someone's religious views (which employers must do) and ENDORSING those religious views, which employers do not have to do (and government employers must not do).  

                            Look at it this way.  Certain Muslim beliefs require women to wear head coverings.  If I wear a head covering when working in a place where that head covering is noticeably different from the uniform and I deal with the public, does that say to the people walking in, "That woman is a Muslim. and her employer allows her to wear the head covering"?  If so, that's fine.  Or does it say to the public, "this is a Muslim workplace, and everybody here is a Muslim"? That's not fine.  However, if I'm the only one, or one of a small minority, of women wearing that head covering, almost certainly that is NOT the message a reasonable person would walk away with.  No court is going to hold that such as situation means the a reasonable person would interpret allowing a few employees to vary the uniform to be an adoption by the employer of those religious views.   And so, if it's a government employer, it doesn't violate the Establishment Clause to let me wear my religious head covering.  

                            In the same way, when people come in for marriage services, and they deal exclusively with people who are happy to perform all legal marriages, there's no possible way for them to conclude that this workplace has adopted, or is endorsing, a religious belief against same-sex marriage.  They may, if they ask a lot of questions, conclude that the government is ACCOMMODATING someone's religious beliefs, as they are required to do.  But ACCOMMODATING someone's religious beliefs is not a violation of the Establishment Clause.  

                          •  I can agree with your take in large part. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Angie in WA State

                            In effect that clerk made an attempt to avoid the Walden issue in which subordinates might actively offend. I am a bit puzzled by your use of that case as it pretty clearly supports an employer's right to remove someone whose religious actions cause offense (my emphasis):

                            The Eleventh Circuit decided another similar case, Walden v. CDC, on February 7, 2012. Ms. Walden was a counselor in a CDC program. She upset a lesbian client when she told the client that she would need to refer her because of her personal values. CDC spent considerable effort with Ms. Walden trying to find ways to refer gay and lesbian clients without making them feel worse because of Ms. Walden’s objections to their lifestyle. Ultimately, the CDC laid off Ms. Walden.  She filed suit, and the district court granted summary judgment against her.
                            The courts did not mandate CDC try to accommodate Walden. The case had little or nothing to do with deciding an employer was failing to make an accommodation. CDC did that first. So, again, apples and oranges. The courts ruled against Walden when she wanted more accommodation. So too the clerk in the present case may have bent over backward to accommodate those individuals and Walden seems pretty silent on whether the courts would mandate that in the first place.

                            Where we part company is that by making a "reasonable accommodation" in reassigning employees from a previous core function of a government office the clerk is making another kind of statement, one that could encounter the establishment issue.

                            In the case at hand a government office is supporting a religious prejudice among its employees, individuals that had previously been doing that function, against citizens the state has confirmed have a right to that office's services. The emphasized portion could make this case more akin to Ward v. Polite that turned on exception to previous policy and practice.

                            That office has now said it supports the peculiar religious views running counter to state law and policy, a view offensive to a number of citizens, and thus established a limited endorsement of that particular religious view in a public office.

                            The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

                            by pelagicray on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 10:20:49 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Again, misconstruing the law. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            VClib

                            One is the part that says that (1) refusing to counsel same sex couples was a sincerely held religious belief and (2) that allowing her to refer those couples to other counselors was a reasonable accommodation. That is considerably more accommodation than the Clerk here did.  The Clerk here said, you can't do marriages at all, not that you can do marriages but can refer same-sex couples to others.

                            Second, is the part where, in addition to that reasonable accommodation, she ALSO thought she had the right to lecture same sex couples as to WHY she wouldn't counsel them.  That is where they ruled against her.  They specifically said that if she had done only part 1, that would have been fine -- no problem -- within her rights.  

                            This is just wrong as a matter of law:  

                            That office has now said it supports the peculiar religious views running counter to state law and policy, a view offensive to a number of citizens, and thus established a limited endorsement of that particular religious view in a public office.
                            Here's your fundamental error.  Under the law, making a reasonable accommodation of an employee's religious views does not constitute "support" of that view or a "limited endorsement" of that view.  There must be something more -- a statement that the one employee's religious views must be followed by everybody else in the office, for example -- to do that.  Saying to one employee, "you can abide by your religious views, and we won't make YOU do anything that violates those views, but OTHERS  are going to be doing those things that violate your religious views" cannot possibly be viewed as endorsing those religious views under the law.  

                            If accommodation equaled "support" or a "limited endorsement," then no government office could comply with the Civil Rights laws.  If "accommodation " equaled "support" or a "limited endorsement," then letting a Muslim woman wear a Muslim head covering, which is an accommodation, would also mean that the government was "supporting" the religious views that women cannot go out in public without covering their heads, and would mean that government was giving a "limited endorsement" to the religious view that women cannot go out in public without covering their heads.  The law specifically does NOT view accommodation that way. The law specifically says that accommodation of a religious belief IS NOT THE SAME THING as "support" or a "limited endorsement" of that belief.  Those slides you linked to make that point.  

                            Let me quote the SCOTUS in Salazar v. Buono, discussing the Establishment Clause:

                            The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm. A cross by the side of a public highway marking, for instance, the place where a state trooper perished need not be taken as a statement of governmental support for sectarian beliefs. The Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion's role in society. A relentless and all-pervasive attempt to exclude religion from every aspect of public life could itself become inconsistent with the Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized that the government may (and sometimes must) accommodate religious practices and that it may do so without violating the Establishment Clause. Rather, it leaves room to accommodate divergent values within a constitutionally permissible framework.  

                            There is case after case recognizing that government can -- and sometimes must -- accommodate religious views without endorsing those views or violating the Establishment Clause.  See for example Cutter v. Wilkinson.

                            Your mistake is in equating "accommodation" as is often done, and is sometimes REQUIRED (as by Civil Rights laws) with "endorsing" or "supporting" or "promoting," which is not permitted because it would be a violation of the Establishment Clause.  They are not the same thing, as the Courts have held over and over and over.

                            There may be SOME instances where "accommodation" is so over the top that it would go into the realm of endorsement.  But it would have to be the kind of thing I discussed earlier, where the public would walk in and conclude that this was a religious place endorsing one religion.   Making a reasonable accommodation of an employee's religious views -- one that will never been seen by people who walk in to get married, because all they will see is a clerk who is dealing with them -- cannot POSSIBLY be construed as going so far to accommodate and employee that it, in effect, establishes a religion for everybody else in that office.  In fact, it is doing the complete opposite.  It is saying to those religious employees, "you have those religious views? fine.  You won't deal with marriage.  Others, who DON'T have those religious views, are going to be the ones to handle marriage, INCLUDING marriage for same-sex couples.  You, personally, won't be doing it, but this office WILL BE MARRYING SAME-SEX COUPLES."  How can this possibly be endorsing a religious view for the whole office of being against marrying same-sex couples?  it is the exact opposite --it is saying, "you can keep your religious view, but it most definitely IS NOT the view of the entire office.  YOU PERSONALLY won't be doing same-sex marriage, BUT THIS OFFICE CERTAINLY WILL."

                            There's no possibility that any court would construe that as establishing or supporting or endorsing the religious views against same-sex marriage for the entire office.

                          •  I'll just agree to disagree and let the courts (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Angie in WA State

                            decide this case if it ever comes to court.

                            Personally I think you are making a long reach into cases that do not quite support your point. Garb, private devotional practices, time off to sacrifice chickens or attend holy retreats hardly apply to a case where apparent governmental support for religious views may be seen by citizens requiring functions of that office as being hostile to citizens seeking a function of that office.

                            The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

                            by pelagicray on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 11:12:47 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  My point is that this (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            VClib
                            may be seen by citizens requiring functions of that office
                            won't happen.  Those people won't be tasked with doing marriages at all.  That means that citizens requiring marriages from that office won't see them at all.  People requiring marriage services won't  see whether or not people they have no dealing with support their marriage.

                            It would be WORSE if the Clerk did what happened -- and what was deemed ok -- in Walden.  It would be worse if the Clerk said, "you don't have to do same-sex marriage, all you have to do is refer them to another clerk without any discussion of explanation of why you are doing that."  That was specifically deemed a reasonable accommodation in Walden.  But if the MD clerk had done that, people seeking marriage would have gone to clerk 1 and have been referred to clerk 2 -- and they might have guessed why they were being referred.  That is not what is happening.  There are no referrals.  When a couple goes to that Clerk's office for a marriage, the only people they will deal with are people willing to perform their marriage.  There's no way they will "see government support for religious views."  They will not even see government ACCOMMODATION for religious views, because what this Clerk did means they do not have to see it.  

                        •  Regarding whether EEOC makes allowances for this, (4+ / 0-)

                          there have been identical cases in states like NY where clerks have made EEOC claims and to date they've gone nowhere.

                          That said, a clerk or county administrator is free to make such job reassignments.    Personally I wouldn't hire someone who can't fulfill a job function, and I'd fire someone who chose not to fulfill that function.

                          •  In a purely private business setting a voluntary (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            skrekk, madhaus

                            accommodation, even if it offends some customers, is a business decision. As long as whatever religious belief was not actively offensive or could be isolated from other employees and customers I'd expect courts to side with the employee. That is where garb, prayer times and holiday leave comes into play. It would be entirely different if an employee in a restaurant refused to serve customers food without praying over it as employee's right to belief stops with a customer's peaceful meal.

                            The issue to me here is whether that clerk, by appearing to endorse prejudicial religious views counter to the state's law and policy for a function of that office, has crossed another line. Has the public support for employees, previously doing a function now wanting to be removed for prejudicial religious reasons, created a "hostile environment" in that public and civil office for citizens toward which such prejudice is commonly directed?

                            Realistically the clerk may be something of a victim here. In skating to avoid a possible EEOC lawsuit she may have skated onto thin ice elsewhere. I'd love to hear discussions in ACLU on which side to take!

                            The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

                            by pelagicray on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 11:03:34 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I'm thinking that while the Maryland marriage (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            WheninRome, madhaus

                            equality law's provision for a clergy exemption was legally completely unnecessary (although probably required politically to gain passage) and redundant of the 1st Amendment, what's really needed is a state law which says that no public employee can discriminate in their job against any class covered under state or federal non-discrimination law and retain their job, regardless of the stated reason.

                            It seems to me that the clerk's actions (and the sentiments of her deputies) is in direct conflict with Maryland's non-discrimination statute, and the teeth in the law need to be stronger.

                •  Which is why the bigots always rule the day. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Smoh, sfbob

                  That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

                  by enhydra lutris on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 07:39:22 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  I guess I have a different read on the story, too. (0+ / 0-)

              Do the clerks make extra pay for doing marriages?
              I always just guessed that they do...a marriage license is issued, and then the couple can choose how and where someone will perform a ceremony.   As clergy, I can perform marriages, fill out the correct legal paperwork, file it in a timely fashion, and charge a fee or not charge a fee (if they aren't church members and I've spent time meeting with them to help plan things, I will charge something.)   If a couple would rather someone else perform the marriage, it is their free choice.  It just has to be a person legally recognized by the state to do the ceremony, witnessed as a legal contract.

              Suppose the clerk is actually proposing a cut in pay to the deputies who refuse?  If police officers can do private details for extra money and the chief says "no details at all for you...." it's an income cut.  MAYBE the clerk is saying "if you want to be bigots, fine.  But you won't be picking up any extra funds performing weddings for anybody, then.   I'll just reassign you."    It might be that this is a very ironic offer of a cut in pay if they don't do their job.....?

              "Because inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened." -Terry Pratchett

              by revsue on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 08:38:06 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  As clergy you don't actually perform any marriage. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                sfbob

                At best all you do is briefly act as a proxy for the state in a non-religious capacity.    I bring that up because unlike a public employee you're free to deny that service to anyone.

                As far as extra pay, getting a marriage license is no different from getting a driver's license.    I rather doubt that there's hazard pay for that.

                •  The way some DMV's operate (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  skrekk

                  being a desk officer there might conceivably constitute hazardous duty. snark

                •  As clergy I most certainly do perform a marriage. (0+ / 0-)

                  Until some person administers the contract, with witnesses, the license is a piece of paper.  I act on behalf of a church AND the state, in dual capacity, for those who request a religious ceremony.   I have legal obligations for the state and can be fined or imprisoned for fraud or failure to return paperwork to the state promptly.    

                  Couples could also choose a justice of the peace or town, city or state official to administer the oath.  Or have a friend register to do a one-time wedding through the state.  All have the same obligations.

                  But you entirely missed the point of my comment, which was that a deputy clerk performing a marriage (administering a contract oath) after the license had been issued might not have been part of the "job" the public paid for.   It just might be an "extra service" some employees were allowed to perform, and the head clerk might have been enforcing a "you pick and choose, you lose" discipline upon those who wanted to discriminate.    Or--it might not be.

                  "Because inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened." -Terry Pratchett

                  by revsue on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 09:21:41 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  No, you only act as an official proxy (0+ / 0-)

                    for the state, at least in regards to marriage.   Your status as clergy per se is entirely irrelevant as far as the formalization of the marriage itself is concerned, which is a secular function.

                    The clergy aspect is only relevant for the "holy matrimony" aspect to the ceremony, which has precisely zero impact on anyone's marital status.

                    As far as the issue of a county clerk issuing a license or formalizing the legal contract, that's part of the reason they receive a salary.    It sounds like the bigot clerks have confused marriage with holy matrimony, and need to consult a divorced and remarried Catholic so they can better understand the difference.

                    That's why we should do what France does and prohibit any marriage from being formalized in a church, because some people are just too dumb to understand the difference between a legal contract and a religious rite.

                    •  Whatever you want to claim. (0+ / 0-)

                      My status as clergy is why I CAN perform the marriage, and have it recognized by the state.   The clerks know very well, I suspect, that issuing a license to do something, and proceeding to step two (actually using that license) are not the same thing.  

                      Licenses are issued only by the state and allow an action to happen as described on the license.  If the action doesn't happen, the license eventually expires.  Do you claim that if the state issues a fishing license, the state must also fish for you?   If the state issues a hunting license, they must bag the deer on your behalf?   If they issue a barber's license, they must also cut your hair?  

                      The marriage license issued by the state is a legal opportunity for a marriage to happen within the dates listed on the license, not the marriage itself (civil or religious).  The state promises to record that event when legal papers prove it has happened.  In my state they have 60 days to complete that action.   A license and a marriage are two different things.

                      You can hate on religion all you want, but it does not make a license and the action of marriage the same thing, any more than a driver's license and actually driving are.   One is necessary for the other, but the fact that the state allows you to drive with a license does not mean you pay them wages to drive you.

                      "Because inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened." -Terry Pratchett

                      by revsue on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 08:24:58 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Ummmm.....mayors, justices of the peace, etc, (0+ / 0-)

                        all perform exactly the same function as you do as an official witness for the state.    That means your status as clergy is completely irrelevant to the function, even if the state by convention typically authorizes clergy to perform that task (along with many others).    Frankly, you should know this better than you apparently do.

                        You can hate on religion all you want, but it does not make a license and the action of marriage the same thing, any more than a driver's license and actually driving are.
                        A license is the authorization to enter the legal contract, the act of marriage is the formalization of that contract.   Mortgages and bank loans have a very similar procedure.
          •  It's about time! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jayden
            "I can't marry them; her bag doesn't match her shoes!"
            And no flip-flops, either. ---The plastic sandals, I mean; the indecision is expected.
      •  Clerk of court is elected. (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WheninRome, dharmafarmer, Smoh, jayden, sfbob

        pays well, too.

        Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

        by dadadata on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:30:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  St. Mary's county has always been stuck in the (13+ / 0-)

    1930s.  They don't even consider blacks equal yet, it's a tall leap for them to respect gay rights.  Nevertheless, we Marylanders spoke, the governor needs to get involved.

  •  This is, frankly, the way it should be handled. (13+ / 0-)

    Employers are generally required to make reasonable accommodation of religious beliefs.  From the EEOC website:  

    Religious Discrimination & Reasonable Accommodation
    The law requires an employer or other covered entity to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden on the operations of the employer's business. This means an employer may be required to make reasonable adjustments to the work environment that will allow an employee to practice his or her religion.

    Examples of some common religious accommodations include flexible scheduling, voluntary shift substitutions or swaps, job reassignments, and modifications to workplace policies or practices.

    I know a lot of people don't like it, but religious beliefs -- even religious beliefs that many consider completely wrong and even bigoted -- are constitutionally protected, and are protected by the Civil Rights laws.  Employers are required, by law, to make reasonable accommodations for those religious beliefs.  And as long as it can be accomplished without huge disruption, job reassignment is the kind of reasonable accommodation that employers are required to make.  

    Gay couples who want to be married can be married with no disruption.  There's no reason that an employer has to require that the marriage be performed by an employee who has a religious objection to it if (1) there are other employees without such religious objection available to provide the service; and (2) there are other job duties that the religious objecting employee can perform within his/her job function.  In other words, if performing marriages is 10% of a person's job duties, some other person can take that 10% from religious objector and religious objector can pick up 10% of the other person's duties.  That's almost the "classic" example of a "reasonable accommodation" of religious beliefs.  

    Again, I know people here believe the religious belief at issue is wrong, bigoted, invalid, etc.  That doesn't matter under the law.  Under the law, the question is whether the employer can make a reasonable accommodation of that religious belief.  

    •  Nobody's religion requires them to discriminate (20+ / 0-)

      "Reasonable accommodation" does include the word "reasonable" for...what's the word I'm trying to find here? a REASON. Furthermore, requests for reasonable accommodation can be and often are declined. Or the means of providing the accommodation may not be what the employee has requested. For example, my employer, a federal agency, recently announced that it would no longer provide free work-site parking to employees with disabilities. I don't recall what the counteroffer was (probably had something to do with taxi fare or paratransit).

      Reasonable accommodation will normally apply to work hours, waivers of dress code, prohibitions against beards and so on, or the accommodation of physical limitations that don't make it impossible for an employee to perform their job entirely.

      •  I will add this... (11+ / 0-)

        Show me one verse, one single verse, in either the Old or New Testament that directly addresses and prohibits same-sex marriage. Not gay sex, MARRIAGE.

        Even were such a verse to be found, it would be a far cry from that prohibition, which pertains to the believer himself or herself, and the public.

        In effect, an escape clause such as the one you suggest would be the equivalent of permitting an employee to discriminate against a customer based upon whether or not that customer observes THEIR religion. I rather seriously doubt such a thing would be found acceptable as a basis for granting a reasonable accommodation.

        If you go to your supervisor and say you can't marry a gay couple because your religion doesn't approve of marriages between two people of the same sex, the best response would be "Fine. Nobody's making you marry someone of your own sex. The couple before you has paid the license fee; they are are entitled to the service."

        •  No, the best response under the (5+ / 0-)

          Civil Rights laws is, "Fine.  Bob and Fred will be the ones in our office to do marriages, and you will take over this part of Bob and Fred's duties." As long as it's not disruptive to those members of the public seeking the service, it's hard to see how that's not "reasonable accommodations.

          •  Why should Bob and Fred get bombed with (11+ / 0-)

            what may well be much more difficult duties just because some neo-Taliban bigoted fuckstick can't tell the difference between Church and State?

            "Furthermore, if you think this would be the very very last cut ever if we let it happen, you are a very confused little rabbit." cai

            by JesseCW on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:44:15 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Because of the Civil Rights laws (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              revsue, ladybug53

              They protect religious beliefs that you think are absurd, ridiculous, wrong, and bigoted.  As does the First Amendment.

              See the EEOC website.

              And because the Civil Rights laws require that employers treat employees who can't perform certain tasks because of a "sincerely held" "religious belief" (as those terms are defined in the law) roughly the same as an employee who can't perform certain tasks because of a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act -- both are entitled to a "reasonable accommodation."  The same term is used in both contexts.  

              If performing marriages is dangerous or hazardous, the laws provide that making Bob and Fred do more is not reasonable accommodation.

              The EEOC has a long discussion of "reasonable accommodation" under the ADA.  The same principle of "reasonable accommodation" applies under the Civil Rights laws to religious beliefs.  

              It's not clear that this Clerk was required, under the Civil Rights laws, to make this accommodation.  We can only know that with a lot more facts than we have.  But it seems to be the kind of thing that could constitute "reasonable accommodation" under the laws  if you read those links.  

              •  It's not reasonable to dump a heavier workload (6+ / 0-)

                on someone for the offense of not being a crazed hate filled bigot.

                "My Church teaches me not to speak to black people" isn't an excuse for dodging work, and catering to that sort of insanity is flatly wrong.

                You have yet to  show an actual difference between what you're avidly defending and that example.

                At a certain point, it's just an argument in favor of supporting bigotries you personal don't see as extreme.

                "Furthermore, if you think this would be the very very last cut ever if we let it happen, you are a very confused little rabbit." cai

                by JesseCW on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 02:43:08 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Show us one place where accomodation involves (5+ / 0-)

                an employee with discriminatory religious beliefs toward people the employee is expected to serve.

                All the accommodations involve an employee being discriminated against by an employer in work conditions not involving that employee's religious prejudices toward those being served by the business or agency. Certainly EEOC guidance on accommodation does not require an employer to risk running afoul of other civil rights law to accommodate a religious belief.

                "My religious belief prohibits me serving food to (Muslims, Jews, Christians, those that do not pray . . .) heathens" runs smack into public accommodation law. It is not a case of the employer discriminating against the employee but the employee's refusal on religious grounds to serve the the customer or, in this case, the citizen.

                That is the mental test to be applied here, not the "headscarf" issue.

                And by the way, the extension of this "belief" thing to those licensed by the state, pharmacist and such, is bullshit. In every case I know a state license requires certain performance and good behavior. From driver's license to a license to fill prescriptions some things must be done and others not.

                I'd very much like to see some lawsuits against the states for licensing people to perform the public role of pharmacist and other licensed professions that refuse to fulfill the licensed duties due to personal or religious prejudice. The remedy is simple. Revoke the state's involvement in the prejudice, the license, of such individuals unwilling to perform the duty for all. Don't want to fill a morning after ℞? The state must not endorse that discrimination by license. By continuing to license such people unwilling to perform the prescribed duties to the citizens the state is endorsing discrimination and a religious belief and practice.

                The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

                by pelagicray on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 06:23:43 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  The laws are broadly written principles (0+ / 0-)

                  The laws are always being applied to new and different situations.  That's what keeps us lawyers employed.  If everything were clear, I'd be out of job.  

                  I haven't researched the case law to see if other situations similar to this have been litigated.  As I've repeatedly said.  I've said that the Clerk came up with a very reasonable solution that AVOIDS the potential that there could be litigation in this case.  

                •  I just did, in my post above. (0+ / 0-)

                  Walden v. CDC & Prevention, 699 F.3d 1277.  Court held that refusal to counsel same sex couples was a sincerely held religious belief, entitled to reasonable accommodation.  That reasonable accommodation was to allow the employer to make referrals.  Employee was not allowed to make judgmental comments in conjunction with those referrals.  

      •  You misunderstand the law. (10+ / 0-)

        First, the religious belief does not have to be a "reasonable" religious belief.  This link defines generally what qualifies as a "religious belief" under the First Amendment:

        To determine whether an action of the federal or state government infringes upon a person's right to freedom of religion, the court must decide what qualifies as religion or religious activities for purposes of the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has interpreted religion to mean a sincere and meaningful belief that occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to the place held by God in the lives of other persons. The religion or religious concept need not include belief in the existence of God or a supreme being to be within the scope of the First Amendment.

        As the case of United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 64 S. Ct. 882, 88 L. Ed. 1148 (1944), demonstrates, the Supreme Court must look to the sincerity of a person's beliefs to help decide if those beliefs constitute a religion that deserves constitutional protection. The Ballard case involved the conviction of organizers of the I Am movement on grounds that they defrauded people by falsely representing that their members had supernatural powers to heal people with incurable illnesses. The Supreme Court held that the jury, in determining the line between the free exercise of religion and the punishable offense of obtaining property under False Pretenses, should not decide whether the claims of the I Am members were actually true, only whether the members honestly believed them to be true, thus qualifying the group as a religion under the Supreme Court's broad definition.

        In addition, a belief does not need to be stated in traditional terms to fall within First Amendment protection. For example, Scientology—a system of beliefs that a human being is essentially a free and immortal spirit who merely inhabits a body—does not propound the existence of a supreme being, but it qualifies as a religion under the broad definition propounded by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has deliberately avoided establishing an exact or a narrow definition of religion because freedom of religion is a dynamic guarantee that was written in a manner to ensure flexibility and responsiveness to the passage of time and the development of the United States. Thus, religion is not limited to traditional denominations.

        The same kind of test is going to apply to the civil rights laws.  It is absolutely clear that, for example, the beliefs of fundamentalist Christians that the marriage is limited to a man/woman situation qualifies as a "religious belief."  You may not think it's a REASONABLE religious belief, but that's not the test.  Government, in laws and in practice, cannot make decisions about which religious beliefs are reasonable and which are not.  

        Second, if there's a "religious belief" under the law (reasonable or not) an employer is required to make a "reasonable accommodation" of that religious belief, even if the belief itself is "unreasonable" in the eyes of the employer.  So, after answering question (1) -- is it a religious belief (reasonable or not) -- question (2) is what would it take for the employer to accommodate that belief?  "Reasonable accommodation" is a term that appears several times in the law, such as in the Americans with Disabilities Act, where it is definedas follows:  

        There are a number of possible reasonable accommodations that an employer may have to provide in connection with modifications to the work environment or adjustments in how and when a job is performed. These include:

        making existing facilities accessible;
        job restructuring;
        part-time or modified work schedules;
        acquiring or modifying equipment;
        changing tests, training materials, or policies;
        providing qualified readers or interpreters; and
        reassignment to a vacant position.(7)
        A modification or adjustment is "reasonable" if it "seems reasonable on its face, i.e., ordinarily or in the run of cases;"(8) this means it is "reasonable" if it appears to be "feasible" or "plausible."(9)An accommodation also must be effective in meeting the needs of the individual.(10) In the context of job performance, this means that a reasonable accommodation enables the individual to perform the essential functions of the position. Similarly, a reasonable accommodation enables an applicant with a disability to have an equal opportunity to participate in the application process and to be considered for a job. Finally, a reasonable accommodation allows an employee with a disability an equal opportunity to enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment that employees without disabilities enjoy.

        Example A: An employee with a hearing disability must be able to contact the public by telephone. The employee proposes that he use a TTY(11) to call a relay service operator who can then place the telephone call and relay the conversation between the parties. This is "reasonable" because a TTY is a common device used to facilitate communication between hearing and hearing-impaired individuals. Moreover, it would be effective in enabling the employee to perform his job.

        Example B: A cashier easily becomes fatigued because of lupus and, as a result, has difficulty making it through her shift. The employee requests a stool because sitting greatly reduces the fatigue. This accommodation is reasonable because it is a common-sense solution to remove a workplace barrier being required to stand when the job can be effectively performed sitting down. This "reasonable" accommodation is effective because it addresses the employee's fatigue and enables her to perform her job.

        Example C: A cleaning company rotates its staff to different floors on a monthly basis. One crew member has a psychiatric disability. While his mental illness does not affect his ability to perform the various cleaning functions, it does make it difficult to adjust to alterations in his daily routine. The employee has had significant difficulty adjusting to the monthly changes in floor assignments. He asks for a reasonable accommodation and proposes three options: staying on one floor permanently, staying on one floor for two months and then rotating, or allowing a transition period to adjust to a change in floor assignments. These accommodations are reasonable because they appear to be feasible solutions to this employee's problems dealing with changes to his routine. They also appear to be effective because they would enable him to perform his cleaning duties.

        There are several modifications or adjustments that are not considered forms of reasonable accommodation.(12) An employer does not have to eliminate an essential function, i.e., a fundamental duty of the position. This is because a person with a disability who is unable to perform the essential functions, with or without reasonable accommodation,(13) is not a "qualified" individual with a disability within the meaning of the ADA. Nor is an employer required to lower production standards -- whether qualitative or quantitative(14) -- that are applied uniformly to employees with and without disabilities. However, an employer may have to provide reasonable accommodation to enable an employee with a disability to meet the production standard. While an employer is not required to eliminate an essential function or lower a production standard, it may do so if it wishes.

        An employer does not have to provide as reasonable accommodations personal use items needed in accomplishing daily activities both on and off the job. Thus, an employer is not required to provide an employee with a prosthetic limb, a wheelchair, eyeglasses, hearing aids, or similar devices if they are also needed off the job. Furthermore, an employer is not required to provide personal use amenities, such as a hot pot or refrigerator, if those items are not provided to employees without disabilities. However, items that might otherwise be considered personal may be required as reasonable accommodations where they are specifically designed or required to meet job-related rather than personal needs.(15)

         
        If performing marriages is only a part of what these particular employees do, and this employer is able to reassign certain those duties without any significant disruption in the service provided to the public,, I have a very hard time seeing how it is not a "reasonable accommodation."
        •  The examples you've provided (10+ / 0-)

          are certainly valid illustrations of the way "reasonable accommodation" is effected (yes, I know they are actual citations from the EEOC site). Here is the problem I have:

          All of them pertain to the ABILITY to perform a specific function. None of them pertain to the willingness, or lack thereof, to perform a specific function.

          Those accommodations which pertain to religious observance...at least the ones I have any experience with...and I do have to concern myself with reasonable accommodation because I have mandatory training on it every year...have to do with times and places, dress codes and, in general, the behavior of an employee not related to any interpersonal interaction. I have seen nothing that provides for reasonable accommodation to be made in interactions with the public where an employee professes to find it uncomfortable, regardless of the reason, to interact with certain members of the general public but not with others.

          •  The Civil Rights laws treat (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            revsue, ladybug53

            religious beliefs similar to a disability that means you PHYSICALLY can't perform certain aspects of a job.  

            I am not aware that this particular issue has been litigated, so I don't know that you will find this exact situation.  

            I am not saying that the Clerk of Court was REQUIRED to make the accommodation that was made.  We won't know that unless and until a situation like this is litigated.  I am saying that (1) religious beliefs are protected under the Civil Rights laws in the same kind of way that disability is protected under the ADA (both talk about "reasonable accommodation") and (2) this solution is the kind of thing that is often termed "reasonable accommodation" by the Courts -- if you can't do one particular aspect of a job because of a religious belief or a disability, and that aspect can be reassigned without disruption to anybody, and you can still perform the "essential functions" of a job, then reassignment of all marriage duties makes sense.  

            It's the best solution for all -- for the public, who deal only with people who can perform all legal marriages without any religious hesitation or objection; for the employees, who all perform work that they can do without religious objection; and for the Clerk of Court, who avoids a dispute that could possibly wind up in a lawsuit, which is NOT what you want, whether the Clerk would ultimately win or not.

            •  Does that include disruption to the people (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              skrekk, Angie in WA State

              getting married?  As an example, if they had to say "sorry, but gay couples can only get their licenses on Monday and Wednesday (but straight couples can get them Monday through Friday)" would it still be a reasonable accommodation?

              You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

              by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 09:53:16 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  That would be disparate treatment (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                pelagicray, skrekk

                Not definitively illegal at the federal level (yet) but at the state level I'm quite certain it would it would be unacceptable. It it were to be litigated it would probably be prohibited using Romer vs Evans as a precedent.

              •  That is definitely a consideration. (0+ / 0-)

                "Reasonable accommodation" means that the accommodation (in this case, job reassignment) can happen without significant disruption to the workplace overall -- and if there are not enough people to serve people who come in to get married, that WOULD be a significant disruption.  

            •  Again, there is a distinction to be made (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              renbear, Smoh, jayden, skrekk, madhaus

              "Cannot do" and "refuse to do" are two separate and distinct things. Absent some specific religious prohibition it's hard to see how such an accommodation would pass muster.

              Look: The ways in which religion is reasonably accommodated generally rest with specific obligation and affirmative requirements.

              It is well known that attempts to provide for the use of psychedelic drugs as a religious sacrament were unavailing, despite long and well-documented practice. It is one thing to claim that your religion prohibits you from marrying someone of your own gender and that your church will not sanction such a marriage. It is quite another to say that you are prohibited, in the course of your secular duties, from issuing a marriage license to a specific couple. Were such a thing obtainable there'd have been plenty of clear-cut instances of Catholic civil servants being allowed to withhold marriage licenses from persons who'd been divorced or from Catholics who were seeking a civil marriage to someone of another faith.

              •  If such Catholic employees had a (0+ / 0-)

                religious objections to performing marriages for divorced persons, they should not be tasked with performing marriages at all.  Period.  For anyone.  

                Which is EXACTLY  what happened in this story.  

                The answer is not to say, well, we'll make sure that the people who have religious objections have to do those things that they object to, even though we can avoid it without too much trouble by reassigning those tasks to someone else.  

                •  And if 80% of the people eligible to provide the (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Angie in WA State, madhaus

                  service happen to be Catholic, then what?

                  Saint Mary's County is not heavily populated. When I checked the vote totals on the ballot proposition they came to about 40k altogether. By comparison, the number of votes cast on the measure, pro and con, in Prince George's County, was 340,500. To be sure there are even less populated counties. Garrett County, which rejected marriage equality did so 73%-37% but with a total vote count of about 11,600.

                  How many deputy clerks could Saint Mary's County possibly employ? And some of those less populous counties could well have perhaps two or three people entirely whose job it would be to issue marriage licenses and solemnize the marriages? If those counties all took the same tack it could in principle result in there being nobody at all available to perform marriages.

                  Additionally, I certainly HOPE that the personnel decision didn't consist of "If you're Catholic you don't have to issue marriage licenses to gay couples." Segregating your staff out based on their religion--in effect giving preferential treatment for a task considered undesirable on a religious basis-- is most definitely not a legally defensible thing to do.

                  •  Here's are global points: (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    madhaus

                    It sounds good on paper to excuse people from performing portions of their job that they find objectionable. Setting that sort of precedent however can have numerous unintended consequences, the vast majority of which are undesirable and possibly not defensible in court. The Defense of Marriage Act has numerous consequences that were not intended, some of which fly in the face of the general intent of statutes. For example, it gives the members of gay couples the ability to flout anti-nepotism and conflict-of-interest laws. Because if we aren't legally married then we don't have to disclose our those marriages in situations where a heterosexual marriage might result in heightened scrutiny of a hiring recommendation or the letting of a public contract.

                    The other global point is the one I stated first. A civil servant assumes the responsibility to provide the services that come with his or her job without regard to the personal characteristics of the members of public receiving those services. Otherwise you are no longer a public servant you are a "portion of the public" servant. So your salary ought not be borne by the entire public.

          •  The examples all fail to include cases where it is (5+ / 0-)

            the employee's religious belief prejudices directed at those being served by the business or agency.

            I think the people making this argument will not likely find a case in which an employer must accommodate an employee's religious beliefs prejudicial to either other employees or those being served. In fact, such tolerance might bring the employer into conflict and liability under broader civil rights law.

            Try "My belief requires I state the curse required by (insert god) on unbelievers when dealing with (fellow employees or customers or citizens passing through)." Uh uh. Same with anyone in any job covered under public accommodations. I don't serve people of that belief won't fly and could well make the employer liable under civil rights public accommodations law.

            The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

            by pelagicray on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 06:31:44 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  I find it amusing (5+ / 0-)

          That the legal views about accommodating religion parallel the ones about accommodating disabilities.  

          I'm still mad about Nixon.

          by J Orygun on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 10:21:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Nobody's religion requires them to… (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sethtriggs, Smoh

        …act stupid or venal, yet in the annals of human history a huge number of stupid and venal acts have been committed in the name of one organized religion or another.

        Teh stoopidTM, it hurts. Buy smart, union-printed, USA-made, signs, stickers, swag for everyone: DemSign.com. Get your We are the 99% Yard Sign.

        by DemSign on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 07:58:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Any "accommodation" that involves (14+ / 0-)

      violating the civil rights of others is per se unreasonable.

      Ok, so I read the polls.

      by andgarden on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:30:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  In this case the accomodation doesn't violate (11+ / 0-)

        anyone's civil rights though, as the marriages are performed by other clerks.  

        I would think the gay couples would prefer to be married by a clerk who doesn't think their marriage is abhorent.

        The deputy's accomodation meets the "reasonable" if the other clerks are not bogged down doing marriages in lieu of their other duties.

        Dont Mourn, Organize !#konisurrender

        by cks175 on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:36:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  If I have a "conscience" objection to marrying (7+ / 0-)

          interracial couples, can I be similarly accommodated?

          Ok, so I read the polls.

          by andgarden on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:38:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You could request it, but you would be denied n/t (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            merrywidow, Smoh

            Dont Mourn, Organize !#konisurrender

            by cks175 on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:42:59 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Why? (7+ / 0-)

              And furthermore, why should that same denial not issue with respect to this request? If it's just a numbers game, let put ourselves in Iowa, where there aren't a huge number of racial minorities.

              Ok, so I read the polls.

              by andgarden on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:46:14 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  There's a lot of law on the subject. (0+ / 0-)

                See my response to you below.

                •  For the record (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Smoh, madhaus

                  You did not respond. You replied by splitting hairs in a side-track question.

                  Ok, so I read the polls.

                  by andgarden on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:54:25 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Coffeetalk actually gave a cited response (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    lostboyjim, ConfusedSkyes

                    and explanation.   You should try reading the rest of the thread before putting your  foot in your mouth.

                    Dont Mourn, Organize !#konisurrender

                    by cks175 on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:59:06 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  The conversation speaks for itself. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      madhaus

                      Ok, so I read the polls.

                      by andgarden on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:01:50 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  I would suggest that none of the instances cited (11+ / 0-)

                      were directly applicable. They pertain mainly to capacity to perform duties or hours of work, or religious dress. They do not pertain to accommodations based upon their interactions with third parties and with the dispensing of services to one class of citizens but not to another class of citizens.

                      •  The law rarely has situations that (4+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        cks175, winsock, MRA NY, Justanothernyer

                        are exactly the same as those that come before.  That is what keeps all of us lawyers employed.  

                        Instead, the law takes principles -- like "sincerely held" "religious beliefs" and "reasonable accommodation" -- and applies them to new situations as they arise.  

                        I am not aware of any situation where an employee who had a religious belief against same-sex marriage and was denied a reasonable accommodation, and challenged it in court.  That's the only way you'd know for sure what the "correct" answer is.  

                        What I'm saying is that this particular solution seems like the best solution for everybody under the principles of the Civil Rights laws -- it's the best thing for the Clerk of Court, for the employees, and for the couples seeking to be married.  And, as an added bonus, it avoids the possibility of those religious employees suing under the Civil Rights laws.  No employer wants that, even if the employer thinks he/she will ultimately win.  

                        •  Interracial marriage was a religious issue (4+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          sethtriggs, Smoh, skrekk, madhaus

                          and why should it matter how many people are in your religion for it to matter?

                          For example, if I have my own personal religious beliefs why  would they be any less respected by my government than those of some larger religion.

                          This whole argument is nonsense.

                          •  There's a whole body of law on what (0+ / 0-)

                            constitutes a "religious belief."  As I said elsewhere, if this matter ever came to litigation, those bringing a lawsuit would have to prove a "sincerely held" "religious belief" under the law.  

                            The Clerk avoided problems, or even potential litigation, but taking the kind of action that has generally been seen to be "reasonable accommodation" under the Civil Rights laws.

                          •  There are two legal issues at odds here (0+ / 0-)

                            Sincere religious belief versus discrimination against those seeking public services.  None of your examples address the conflict of rights, only the accommodation for belief.  The Walden case is not for a government agency so they are different issues.  Furthermore counseling is a very different service than a clerk processing paperwork, as it requires the former to empathize with the clients or the work cannot be done effectively.

                            Here are some examples of what would constitute the same issues as the Maryland clerk's office.

                            Can a city building inspector refuse to certify mosques because he sincerely believes they are an invalid religion and God will strike the building down, causing death and destruction to innocent neighbors?

                            Can an Orthodox Jewish county health inspector refuse to certify non-kosher restaurants because they are unclean per Leviticus?

                            Can a Saudi-American DMV clerk refuse to grant any women a drivers license per Wahhabist teachings?

                            Can a Wiccan public high school principal refuse to allow male students to take certain subjects because such knowledge is "inappropriate to their nature"?

                            Can a Creationist public school teacher refuse to accept science papers about evolution because they affront her view of the world?

                            Can a Catholic state meat inspector refuse to license stores that thwart teachings and sell meat on Fridays?

                            Can an atheist family court judge refuse custody to any religious parents because they are, in her sincere belief, harming the child's worldview?

                            I'm sure people can come up with more examples where someone's beliefs may be sincerely held, but shouldn't be acted upon because they would harm members of the public in doing so.

              •  It's quite simple, actually. (0+ / 0-)

                The EEOC laws and requlations allow for reasonable accomodations for religious beliefs.

                The St Mary's County Clerk of the Court came up with a reasonable accomodation in this instance of an actual case.

                In your hypothetical case, a person would have to state that their religious beliefs did not condone inter-racial marriages.  Are there still people out there who believe that? Yes.  But the reality is that those types of believers are normally found in sects that are so opposed to the government, their religious beliefs would preclude them from holding the position of clerk of the court at all, or any government job for that matter.

                So the answer to your question could be yes.  If you didn't want to marry an inter-racial couple, you could claim a religious exemption, and the Clerk of the Court would deny it.  It would then be up to you to take it to court, conduct the marriage, or quit your job if your convictions were that dear to your heart.

                Dont Mourn, Organize !#konisurrender

                by cks175 on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:58:05 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  You are begging the question (8+ / 0-)

                  Explain to me, please, why it is that the analysis isn't exactly the same? The hypothetical racist clerk should lose if she goes to court. Why? It is per se unreasonable to offer official imprimatur to discrimination. And if the law says otherwise, the law is wrong.

                  In principle, I see no difference here.

                  Ok, so I read the polls.

                  by andgarden on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:00:52 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Principle may be on your side, but the law is on (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    salamanderempress

                    the side of the clerk making the accomodation.

                    If this really frustrates you, you're real beef should be with the EEOC's guidelines on religious accomodations, not one example of the accomodation being utilized.

                    Dont Mourn, Organize !#konisurrender

                    by cks175 on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:03:17 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Please go on the record explicitly (4+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      JesseCW, Smoh, skrekk, madhaus

                      Is it your understanding of the law that a religiously motivated racist clerk could refuse to perform an interracial marriage?

                      Ok, so I read the polls.

                      by andgarden on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:04:32 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  The lack of a response here is telling (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        JesseCW

                        Ok, so I read the polls.

                        by andgarden on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:10:23 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  If my answers haven't been clear to you, it's only (0+ / 0-)

                        a sign of your stubborn refusal to see the difference between common sense and theory.

                        I cleary stated that a religious exemption would not be granted to a clerk who did not want to marry an inter-racial couple.  So the answer to your question is no, a clerk could not do so.

                        Of course they could try.  But they would fail.  (At least in Maryland they would, I don't know how your courts in Iowa would handle it)

                        Dont Mourn, Organize !#konisurrender

                        by cks175 on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:12:06 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Your stubborn refusal to offer a principled (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          JesseCW, madhaus

                          distinction is telling.

                          What is so compelling as a "practical" matter here anyway? That it is much more common to dislike gay people and marriage equality on a religious basis?

                          Ok, so I read the polls.

                          by andgarden on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:14:45 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Try taking another look at (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            lostboyjim

                            Coffeetalk's citations on religious accomodations.

                            Just because the objection doesn't seem reasonable to us, it doesn't make the accomodation unreasonable.

                            I'm giving you the legal take on the issue.  

                            I don't live in St Mary's County, but I do some business down there and I'm familiar with the culture (it's a rural county with some bedroom communities that are home to DC commuters.  There's also a Naval Air Station there so there's a lot of military personnel and vets in the area).  It's a red, conservative county.

                            On principle you can win the argument, but in the real world application of law in society, the Clerk of the Court came up with a compromise, albiet distasteful to some.

                            Here's the reality though with your choice, "perform the marriage or quit".  In today's economy, most of those clerks would perform the marriage.

                            Now really, would you want to be married by a clerk who found your marriage objectionable and abhorent?  Or would you rather have the ceremony done by a willing  clerk?

                            Dont Mourn, Organize !#konisurrender

                            by cks175 on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:24:53 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  you obviously don't understand (5+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            J Orygun, renbear, Smoh, skrekk, madhaus

                            how offensive you sound or I doubt you would go on like this.

                          •  I might find your smear offensive, (0+ / 0-)

                            but wouldn't claim so without at least an explanation.

                            I voted for gay marriage here in Maryland, and all I'm doing here is pointing out that down in that county, the Clerk has found a way to provide equal support to gay and straight couples while avoiding the unpleasant scenario of having a clerk perform the ceremony who didn't want to be there.

                            I'm talking pragmatism here.  If might make the petulant andegarden happy to see an anti-gay marriage clerk forced to perform a ceremony, but I'm more interested in seeing the couple getting married be a part of a completely happy and joyous event where all the participants involved are happy to be there.

                            What the hell is so offensive about that?!

                            Dont Mourn, Organize !#konisurrender

                            by cks175 on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 03:44:57 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

            •  Common sense is still a good guide. (0+ / 0-)

              gay marriage is very new and mindblowing to many people, as I said above, cut them some slack until this is just another customer.

          •  In that case, the question would be whether that (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            shanikka

            is a "religious belief" that is protected.  There's a whole line of litigation on that, too.  Basically, you can't just say "I have a religious belief that says xyz," and expect that to be accommodated, or constitutionally protected.  

            It's not a matter of a "conscience" objection.  "Conscience" is not protected by either the First Amendment or the Civil Rights laws.  Religion is.  

            When it comes to "reasonable accommodation," the second question is whether it is "sincerely held" (another legal term).  

            The EEOC manual has guidelines on  that as well. And  there is a long line of cases defining each of those terms.  I would direct you to the EEOC manual as a start on the issue of what is a "religious belief" and "sincerely held."

            Frankly, for something like interracial marriage, I think it would be an uphill battle  to argue that it's  "sincerely held" and it's a "religious belief" under those guidelines.

            •  This is a boring side-track (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sfbob, Smoh, skrekk, madhaus

              I would ask you to actually engage the substance of my question. Assume for the moment that there is a real, officially racist church that I am a member of. Is my requested "accommodation" reasonable?

              Ok, so I read the polls.

              by andgarden on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:53:44 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Nobody can answer that question as you put it. (3+ / 0-)

                Please read the links that I provided you.  It's a very very fact-intensive inquiry.  It depends on what those specific beliefs are and whether the meet the test of "religious beliefs," whether they meet the test of being "sincerely held," what exactly your "sincerely held" "religious belief" requires of you and whether a reasonable accommodation can be where you can still perform the essential duties of your job functions.  For example, if you could demonstrate a "sincerely held" "religious belief" under the law that prohibited you from dealing with Asian people in any way, shape, or form, AND dealing with the public was an essential function of your job duties, then probably you could not perform the job and no accommodation would need to be made.  If, on the other hand, your "sincerely held" "religious belief" (and I put the quotations because those are legal terms that mean what the law says they mean, not what they might mean to most people in casual conversation) prohibited you from providing liquor to Asian Americans, and you worked at a store where there was a liquor counter and a bunch of other separate counters for other items, saying "you won't work at the liquor counter, you'll work at the other counter" might be a reasonable accommodation.  It means that there's no disruption when Asians come to the liquor counter, so the customers never see or know anything one way or the other, and you can still perform the essential part of your job duties.  (If the liquor counter was significantly more dangerous or hazardous than the other counters, however, making others spend more time at that dangerous or hazardous station might not be a "reasonable accommodation.")  It's far, far too dependent on specific facts to give you a "yes" or "no" answer.  

                Again, though, with something like that, you'd have to demonstrate that it's a "sincerely held" "religious belief" under the law.

              •  No need to assume. There are such churches. (6+ / 0-)

                Christian Identity is a vague, loose amalgamation of beliefs and supporters. But the beliefs are theological, and the supporters do include some organized congregations. They are racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-LGBT. Southern Poverty Law Center tracks them.

                Just because you're not a drummer doesn't mean that you don't have to keep time. -- T. Monk

                by susanala on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:47:56 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Um... (10+ / 0-)
              Frankly, for something like interracial marriage, I think it would be an uphill battle  to argue that it's  "sincerely held" and it's a "religious belief" under those guidelines.
              You've clearly never been to the church I grew up in. They'd give you chapter and verse to back up their bigotry. Oh, it's sincerely held. Stupid, and a wrongheaded interpretation of the Bible in my opinion, but sincere nevertheless.

              Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

              by Chrislove on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:02:58 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, this (7+ / 0-)

                Good luck getting married anywhere in the south until pretty recently.

                Why is there a southern baptist church in the first place?

                Ok, so I read the polls.

                by andgarden on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:07:31 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Very good point (7+ / 0-)
                  Why is there a southern baptist church in the first place?

                  Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

                  by Chrislove on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:09:04 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  And it's not just the SBC but many Protestant (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    madhaus

                    sects in the south which still hold such racist views, as well as some Mormons.

                    When the SBC changed their policy in 1995 it was simply with a non-binding resolution.   Individual SBC churches are still free to be as racist as they like and refuse to perform religious weddings for mixed-race couples (as happened several times recently).

                    •  Heck there was a story this year about a church (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      skrekk

                      Where the pastor was pressured by certain influential members to not allow a black couple to marry there... After he had taken their deposit, scheduled the wedding, and they had drawn up invitations and plans.  This was in Mississippi.

                      But the issue here is governmental offices and whether they should accommodate bigotry by their workers or tell them to serve the public or finds other job elsewhere. So far every case cited has been in the private sector.  Provision of taxpayer-funded services deal with equal protection issues directly.

              •  You have to be a lot more specific than (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ConfusedSkyes

                "they are racist."  See my other detailed posts on the subject.  Being  generally "racist" probably couldn't qualify as a "sincerely held" "religious belief" as those terms are defined under the law. It's far too vague and undefined to be a "religious belief" that an employer has to accommodate.   A "religious belief" is something like, "I don't eat meat on Fridays because I'm Catholic" or "I don't eat pork because I'm an Orthodox Jew."  

                If by "racist," you mean that "I believe that I, as a Caucasian, should not have to deal on an equal basis with members of other races," then even if that could be deemed a "sincerely held" "religious belief" as those terms are defined under the law, then there probably is no reasonable accommodation that can be made if the essential function of your job is dealing with the public.  You just could not hold any such job.  If, however, your "sincerely held" "religious belief" is something far more narrow, like "I won't witness the signature of Asians," and witnessing signatures is only a small part of job duties, then a "reasonable accommodation" might be for other employees to do all witnessing of all signature of all people and you to do none, but instead for you to perform other job duties that do not violate your religious beliefs.  

                •  I didn't say "they are racist" (6+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  JesseCW, vacantlook, suesue, Smoh, skrekk, madhaus

                  Those words are nowhere in my above post. I was replying specifically about the issue of interracial marriage. That is the religious belief I was talking about, and there are fundamentalists who will quote you chapter and verse. You seem to be trying to talk circles around everybody who responds to you.

                  Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

                  by Chrislove on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:40:30 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Although, they ARE racist (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    JesseCW, happymisanthropy, suesue, Smoh

                    Just pointing out that I wasn't talking about racism broadly speaking.

                    Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

                    by Chrislove on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:42:04 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  If someone could prove a (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    ConfusedSkyes

                    "sincerely held" "religious belief" (as those terms are defined in the law) against interracial marriage, then the I think that, under the Civil Rights laws, the employer should probably say, "you won't perform ANY marriages.  Another employee will be tasked with performing marriages."  (Caveat:  this is a very very generalized statement and it depends on the specific factual situation.)

                    That is assuming that the employee has other aspects of his/her job that he/she can and is performing adequately, and that re-tasking marriages to another employee does not cause a disruption to the the workplace or to those people who come in seeking to be married.  

                    If an "essential function" (again, that's a legal term that's defined in specific ways) of the job is performing marriages -- like if that's the only thing that office does all day --  then no "reasonable accommodation" can be made.  Then the employee can be told, "Marrying people is the essence of this job, and if you can't marry anybody who is legally allowed to be married, then you can't hold this job."  

                    Think of it like a disability -- what constitutes a "resonable accommodation" of a disability?  The same term -- "reasonable accommodation" is used in the law with respect to religious beliefs and disabilities.  

            •  You'd have no trouble at all if you belonged (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Smoh, skrekk, madhaus

              to any number of deeply racist sects.

              You're just dodging the question.

              "Furthermore, if you think this would be the very very last cut ever if we let it happen, you are a very confused little rabbit." cai

              by JesseCW on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:48:02 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  I have no idea how things stand in Maryland (13+ / 0-)

          However, when marriage equality passed in New York State there were towns were only a single individual performed marriages and a few of those individuals announced loudly that they would not be performing same-sex marriages. The alternative offered was, in effect, that those couples could go to some other town. That was viewed as unacceptable.

          Saint Mary's County, MD is semi-rural in character. I presume that marriages may be conducted in town offices where in fact there is nobody else to perform a marriage.

          Were I part of a heterosexual couple I wouldn't need to stop and consider whether the person at the county clerk's desk had an opinion one way or the other about my pending marriage. Suppose the clerk on duty were a devout Catholic and that one of the members of the couple appearing before him or her were divorced. Or that one of them members of the couple appearing before him or her were Catholic while the other was not. Do you think that the clerk would have any right to refuse to issue that couple a license?

          Suppose the individual on duty were an observant Jew who maintained a kosher home. Suppose a Jewish couple appeared before him or her and suppose that the clerk was aware that couple ate bacon or mixed meat and dairy at dinner. Would the clerk be permitted to refuse to issue them a license?

          The fact is that the only legitimate concerns a county clerk should have when a couple shows up and applies for a marriage license would be 1) are these people legally permitted to marry and 2) have they paid the license fee?

          There's no reason why a gay couple--or any couple-- should be placed in a position where they'd need to consider if the person they approach to obtain a license had any sort of opinion about their marriage one way or the other.

          In addition, I believe that Maryland's anti-discrimination laws include sexual orientation.

          Ultimately the problem with arguing that there should be some sort of "conscience clause" or "reasonable accommodation" provided is that such excuses are invariably invoked against only one class of citizens or one specific activity or one specific medication.

          •  nope. (0+ / 0-)

            Saint Mary's County, MD is semi-rural in character. I presume that marriages may be conducted in town offices where in fact there is nobody else to perform a marriage.
            .....

            Nope. You got to the county courthouse.

            Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

            by dadadata on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:35:53 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  You really missed the point. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            revsue, ladybug53

            The solution that the County Clerk came up with solves this problem:  

            Were I part of a heterosexual couple I wouldn't need to stop and consider whether the person at the county clerk's desk had an opinion one way or the other about my pending marriage. Suppose the clerk on duty were a devout Catholic and that one of the members of the couple appearing before him or her were divorced. Or that one of them members of the couple appearing before him or her were Catholic while the other was not. Do you think that the clerk would have any right to refuse to issue that couple a license?

            Suppose the individual on duty were an observant Jew who maintained a kosher home. Suppose a Jewish couple appeared before him or her and suppose that the clerk was aware that couple ate bacon or mixed meat and dairy at dinner. Would the clerk be permitted to refuse to issue them a license?

            The fact is that the only legitimate concerns a county clerk should have when a couple shows up and applies for a marriage license would be 1) are these people legally permitted to marry and 2) have they paid the license fee?

            There's no reason why a gay couple--or any couple-- should be placed in a position where they'd need to consider if the person they approach to obtain a license had any sort of opinion about their marriage one way or the other.

            The solution assures any couple that they don't have to be concerned about the clerk.  What the solution says is that, if, for religious reasons, you cannot perform any and all marriages that are legally allowed, you will not perform ANY marriages.  You will do other job duties.  Others -- who have no religious belief that interferes with them performing any and all marriages that are legally allowed -- will be the ones tasked with performing marriages.  

            That is the best solution for all -- including the gay couple seeking to be married -- because they don't have to worry about any of those things.  

            •  If they cannot perform ANY marriages, then they (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JesseCW, sfbob, sethtriggs, skrekk, madhaus

              are not completing all the tasks of a clerk, and they should not be paid the full salary of that position.

              So, let them NOT perform marriages, but only pay them, say 75% of what that position normally pays.

              No reason on earth that they should earn a full salary if, even if for religious reason, they are unable to perform all the tasks & duties of that office.

              Let their bigotry hit them right where they'll feel it most--in their wallets!

              •  This question that you raise (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ladybug53

                If they cannot perform ANY marriages, then they

                are not completing all the tasks of a clerk, and they should not be paid the full salary of that position.

                So, let them NOT perform marriages, but only pay them, say 75% of what that position normally pays.

                is the heart of the "reasonable accommodation" question.  Under the interpretation of "reasonable accommodation," an employee does not need to be able to perform each and every potential task for a job if they can perform "essential functions," and those aspects they cannot perform can be reassigned to others without significant disruption to the overall workplace.  

                The same term and concept -- "reasonable accommodation" -- is also used in the Americans with Disabilities Act.  That law involves situations where an employee, because of a disability, cannot before all aspects of a job, but can perform the essential functions with "reasonable accommodation."

                •  I meant to put the quotes from you (0+ / 0-)

                  in block quotes. Sorry for any confusion.  

                •  But these people suffer from no disability, unless (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  skrekk, madhaus

                  you consider being a bigot a "disability."

                  Therefore, I'm not willing to grant them any leeway in this situation. It's fine if they want to be bigots, but I see no problem with their bigotry exacting a price.

                  •  It doesn't matter what leeway YOU (3+ / 0-)

                    are willing to grant them.  "Religious beliefs" that qualify under the Civil Rights laws -- bigoted or not -- are protected under the Civil Rights laws.  The Civil Rights laws -- and the First Amendment -- do not make any distinction between a religious belief that the vast majority of this country would think is desirable and a religious belief that the vast majority of this country thinks is despicable.  Both are protected under the First Amendment and the Civil Rights laws.  

                    And the reason I talked about the ADA is because the Civil Rights laws requires that "sincerely held" "religious beliefs" be treated in the workplace in the same way that a disability is treated.  The Civil Rights lawsrequires that religious beliefs be given "reasonable accommodation" in the workplace.   The ADA requires that disabled persons be given "reasonable accommodation" in the workplace.

                    And this accommodation exacts no price from anybody -- least of all those couples seeking to be married.  The religious employees don't get to perform ANY marriages.  The couples get the service they want from an employee who has no hesitation about providing it.  

                    •  Civil rights law has a flip side and your argument (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Smoh, skrekk, madhaus

                      fails to recognize that side. All your discussion fails to recognize this is a state function, that allowing certain persons to opt out of a basic function of that office on religious grounds may be seen as state recognition of that religious belief as it is directed at citizens being served by that office. By making this accommodation the state office of clerk of court is endorsing particular discrimination of a religious belief toward other citizens. That is a constitutional problem that may be settled in litigation.

                      No where does EEOC guidance require an employer to accommodate prejudicial behavior, religious or not, that is directed toward those being served. To paraphrase, as a citizen facing such an employee in a state office or a public accomodation:

                      The right to belief ends where the other man's right to be served begins."
                      If this were a private business then such accommodation would just be "nice" on the part of the employer. In a state office or function licensed by the state it becomes very problematic.

                      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

                      by pelagicray on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 07:08:12 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

            •  That's why I like this temporary solution (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sethtriggs

              I'm straight, but I think anyone so hateful should not be in the business of marriage. I wouldn't want them marrying me and I don't think gay couples should have to put up with people hostile to them.

            •  Of course, that may mean that a clerk that can (0+ / 0-)

              perform marriages might not be available except for one or two days a week which means either a long drive or being put on a very long waiting list.

              You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

              by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 09:58:50 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  No evidence of that whatsoever. None. (0+ / 0-)

                How many people are in that office, how many are going to be performing marriages and how many are not?  And how many people come in on the average day to have marriages performed?  And how much of the total work time in a day does that take up?

                If your scenario were the result, even under the Civil Rights laws, that would not be a reasonable accommodation.  A "reasonable accommodation" generally means no significant disruption in the workplace.  

      •  You said it far more succinctly than I did (8+ / 0-)

        But that is what it comes down to.

        There are other considerations at work here as well. If you are hired to perform a particular service it is not within the realm of your responsibilities to decide to provide that service to one person while withholding it from another similarly situated person unless the regulations under which that service is provided allow for that distinction. Otherwise nothing would prevent someone from taking a position in as a clerk of the court but only marrying his or her friends.

        There are states, including my own (California) where businesses have signs up that state "We reserve the right to refuse service to anybody." You will not find such signs posted in municipal or state offices because that right does not in fact pertain to public employees.

        •  The stores that put up those signs (7+ / 0-)

          still can't discriminate on the basis of a variety of personal characteristics (including, in California, I presume, sexual orientation). Public accommodation laws FTW!

          Ok, so I read the polls.

          by andgarden on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:40:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Whose civil rights are being violated? (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cks175, Cassandra Waites, revsue, MRA NY

          As long as any couple who wants to be married can do so without any disruption in service, the civil rights of gay couples aren't being violated.  Nobody has a "civil right" to have their marriage performed by a specific person.  

          •  The taxpayers just had the number of workers (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            suesue, skrekk, madhaus

            available to perform the service reduced.

            They are, very simply, not getting what they paid for.

            And why?  To cater to Americas own version of the Taliban.

            Calling extremist bigotries "religious" doesn't change how utterly revolting and fundamentally anti-human they are.

            How is any LGBT person, or any person with an LGBT kid, supposed to work in an office with someone who openly and avowedly dedicated to insisting that some people just aren't people?

            Keeping these kind of irrational hate mongers on the job creates a hostile work place, in and of itself.

            "Furthermore, if you think this would be the very very last cut ever if we let it happen, you are a very confused little rabbit." cai

            by JesseCW on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:52:36 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You don't know this (4+ / 0-)
              The taxpayers just had the number of workers)
              available to perform the service reduced.

              They are, very simply, not getting what they paid for.

              The story says they were reassigned and are performing other tasks, not that they are working less.  

              If performing marriages is, hypothetically, 10% of all the work done in that office, and there are five employees, and 2 have religious objections to certain legal marriages, it would seem to be a "reasonable accommodation" under the Civil Rights laws (read the links I gave you elsewhere) for the office to say, those two employees will do no marriages, but will do other things - -- working the same amount of hours performing the tasks that fall in the other 90% of our work -- and those three employees who have no religious beliefs that need to be accommodated will work the same number of hours but all marriages will be tasked to them.  

              Taxpayers are still getting their money's worth in that kind of situation. That's the kind of "reasonable accommodation" that is contemplated by the Civil Rights laws and the ADA (which uses the same term).  

        •  In this case, though, the clerks are not going to (9+ / 0-)

          perform any marriages, gay or straight.  

          The gay couples still get married, so a religious accomodation is made for the clerks while the rights of the gays are respected.

          It's irritating to see that it has to be done at all, but the clerk actually came up with a workable compromise.

          Dont Mourn, Organize !#konisurrender

          by cks175 on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:41:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Well... (6+ / 0-)

        There's a fairly strong argument to be made here that nobody's civil rights are being abridged by this accommodation. Nobody's going to be denied a license because the non-bigoted clerk took the day off, or embarrassed by being shunted into a separate line, or anything of the sort.

        It would be a problem if the supervisor let these clerks keep doing opposite-sex licenses. But she's taking them off marriage duty entirely. All of the clerks in the marriage line will be non-bigoted. That's a reasonable accommodation if one considers bigotry a valid religious practice.

        (I, personally, would prefer to eliminate religious accommodations entirely if it weren't for the fact that doing so would basically legalize discrimination. Given that we're kind of stuck with the accommodations being required, this is a reasonable way to go about handling accommodating bigots. Take them out of the context where their bigotry affects the public.)

        "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

        by kyril on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:54:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I would like you to please engage (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          skrekk

          the interracial marriage question.

          Ok, so I read the polls.

          by andgarden on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:56:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  If a clerk is not willing to issue licenses and/or (7+ / 0-)

            officiate at marriages for any couple legally entitled to get married, that clerk is not allowed to do so for any of the others.

            That is as clear a statement of the situation as I can come up with for any target of bigotry.

            Why you feel you have not been answered is beyond me.

            Why anyone feels that it is not a reasonable accommodation for a clerk unwilling to marry certain couples to be assigned entirely to other duties (of which, in county offices, there are MANY), I don't understand.  

            The attitude in question pisses me off, too.  But the response made was both legal and proper.

            Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

            by loggersbrat on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:17:48 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  From a legal and practical standpoint, (0+ / 0-)

            I think it would be essentially the same. If it were handled like this, I think it would be acceptable in terms of protecting the civil rights of couples who want to marry while protecting the religious freedom of the clerks.

            From a moral standpoint, I think it's also the same: it's reprehensible. It's unconscionable that employers should have to accommodate this sort of crap. It doesn't really matter whether it's homophobic bigots or racist bigots hiding behind the skirts of religion - neither ought to be acceptable. Being a bigot ought to be grounds for being fired regardless of what religious rationalizations you concoct for it.

            Unfortunately, it's not, and unfortunately, that's because other kinds of bigots would be able to hide behind the law if it were legal.

            We have a choice between protecting bigoted employees and bigoted employers. As sick as it makes me to protect any kind of bigot, I think it's better to stand behind the employees as a general rule.

            "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

            by kyril on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 05:11:58 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  I agree. Gay marriage is still shocking to some (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MRA NY

      and I think a lot of religious people get brainwashed in childhood and they live in a fundie bubble and there can be reasonable accomodation, then why not?

      We can be a little compassionate too, and cut them some slack for awhile.

    •  Nowhere in EEOC guidance is the idea that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Smoh, skrekk

      "accommodation" must be made for religious beliefs that actively discriminate against those the business or agency serves. If your job description involves taking orders for food you cannot refuse service to a customer because your religious beliefs consider them outcasts or the food they order unclean. Same with civil marriage a person in your capacity is expected to perform.

      As a mind game, imagine everyone in that office opting out of performance of some duty to a citizen of the office on religious grounds prejudicial to that citizen. Lawsuit and no EEOC "protection" is going to avail.

      EEOC guidance is directed toward employers directing prejudice to an employee and not making reasonable accommodation for things not core to the work performed. Nowhere does such guidance protect an employee directing religious prejudice toward those normally served by the business.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 05:57:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wrong. (0+ / 0-)

        I answered this above.  Walden case.  

        •  And I think I've answered, and puzzled as to why (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          madhaus

          you think a case in which the courts supported the dismissal of a person that the employer had already voluntarily accommodated, applies to this instance.

          The Walden case courts were not defending the employee's right to accommodation, something already done without court intervention, as has just been done in this clerk's office. The courts slapped down an employee that contested dismissal when the accommodation was not to her satisfaction. A very odd choice of cases!

          If anything, I might conclude that particular case would support the clerk's dismissal of these employees, individuals that had those duties as part of their routine duties before, if the citizens using that office took that to be offensive. If "Conservatives Counseling Gay or Lesbian Clients" is accurate in this second loss of Ms. Walden in court:

          The circuit court affirmed the district court. It considered Ms. Walden's free exercise rights and concluded that Ms. Walden was not laid off because of her religious beliefs, but because of concern that she would convey her reasons in unacceptable ways to clients who were already in a vulnerable state.
          I'd think Walden might llkely be cited in supporting the clerk's potential dismissal of those employees because some of the citizen clients felt prejudice and that this special religious accommodation (again, Ward v. Polite for exception to the previous practice) was unacceptable support for that prejudice in a public office.

          The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

          by pelagicray on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 10:41:10 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You misread Walden. (0+ / 0-)

            Walden said:

            1.  A religious objection to counseling same-sex couples was a "sincerely held" "religious belief" of the kind that merits accommodation under the Civil Rights laws.

            2.  Allowing the employee to remain a counselor, but to refer same-sex couples to others, was a reasonable accommodation of that religious view.  Those are akin to what is happening in this Maryland situation. In fact, this is more accommodation than in MD.  In Walden, the employee kept her counseling job, and the same-sex couples who came to her had the extra step of being referred to another counselor.  The Court said that was a reasonable accommodation of her religious beliefs.  In MD, same sex couples have no such extra step.  They will never be dealing with anyone who has a religious objection to dealing with them at all.  

            3.  A FURTHER accommodation of allowing the employee, while she was making the referral, to lecture others about her religious beliefs was NOT necessary and NOT a reasonable accommodation.  That's nothing like what is happening in Maryland.  

    •  Nonsense. (0+ / 0-)

      If the employee were a Southern Baptist who objected to mixed-race marriage (or a Catholic who didn't believe divorced persons can remarry), no such accommodation would be made.

    •  The problem with all of your conjecture on this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      madhaus

      subject in this diary is that you continue to make the case that "religious accommodation" in the EEOC language somehow means NOT merely that such accommodations are required in the Employer-Employee relationship, but in the Employee-Customer relationship.

      I think you are wrong.

      This law was not designed for, nor does it mention such relationships.


      "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization" -- me

      by Angie in WA State on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 12:22:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I just don't understand why these fundamentalist (11+ / 0-)

    Christians live in this country at all.  They don't want to obey all sorts of United States laws due to "religious conscience."  Why don't they go move to a country where sacred scripture really does dominate lawmaking?  Isn't there a "Christian" country nowadays that is predominantly fundamentalist Christian, where they'd fit right in?

    That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

    by concernedamerican on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:06:50 PM PST

  •  Exactly: (15+ / 0-)
    When I was hired it was impressed upon me that as a civil servant it was my duty to discharge my obligations without regard to my personal preferences and prejudices.
    If you do not like the policy the only alternative is fall on your sword, i.e., resign. The Annapolis trolley guy has the right as a business owner to drop out of his trolley marriage business entirely because he is against a particular type of marriage and faces lawsuit if he discriminates. A civil servant in particular does not.

    Maybe it is the end of having lots of draftee vets about, people knowing very well the meaning of "liking it is optional, doing it is not," but this country has gone moon howling mad with people thinking they "got a right" not to do a duty because they don't like it. Sorry, you are a state licensed pharmacist so, yes, you gotta fill birth control pill ℞—and legislators wanting to give such people an opt out are, in my opinion, treading across a constitutional line regarding discrimination.

    The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

    by pelagicray on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:18:08 PM PST

  •  When you shine a flashlight (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gizmo59, sfbob, The Marti, suesue, Smoh

    the cockroaches generally flee.

    Thanks for publicizing this. And for making things a tiny bit hot for Ms. Joan Williams.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:41:17 PM PST

  •  but, but aren't they public employees ZOMG (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gizmo59, sfbob, The Marti, sethtriggs, suesue, Smoh
    Joan Williams, clerk of the Saint Mary's County Circuit Court (I presume that state circuit courts coincide with county boundaries in Maryland), has decided, in her infinite wisdom, that any deputy clerk that does not wish to marry same-sex couples will have all of their marriage-related duties reassigned to others.

    yksitoista ulotteinen presidentin shakki. / tappaa kaikki natsit "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) 政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

    by annieli on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:44:35 PM PST

  •  Again with the "religious feelings"... (7+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hastur, sfbob, chancew, JesseCW, sethtriggs, Smoh, skrekk

    It sounds so nice, doesn't it?  But it's really just good, old fashioned "I hate teh gayz!  And my religion agrees, so that  makes it okay!"

    And Maryland again!  This is just a reminder that all of Maryland is not a liberal paradise, despite its reputation as a blue state.  St. Mary's County is at the end of a peninsula, so it's kind of isolated, and I'm sure that this ugliness can at least partly be blamed on that isolation.

    -5.13,-5.64; If you gave [Jerry Falwell] an enema, you could bury him in a matchbox. -- Christopher Hitchens

    by gizmo59 on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:49:33 PM PST

  •  This is some fucking bullshit (16+ / 0-)

    Don't agree with marriage equality to the point where you can't do your job? Get another fucking job.

    This done got me all riled up!

    Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

    by Chrislove on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:52:20 PM PST

  •  in a "right to work" state... (0+ / 0-)

    ...if you don't want to do your job, you get your ass fired.  the employees are lucky they do not live in one of those states.

    I'm a blue drop in a red bucket.

    by blue drop on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:13:00 PM PST

  •  My son and daughter in law were married (8+ / 0-)

    in Maryland, at a county office.  The people who came through the day they were married were varied in the extreme, which made it an adventure.  It was a lovely experience, and everyone was extremely charming and helpful.  It infuriates me to know that teh "religious freedom" crap is permitted in such a situation.  

    As for photographers, I think this is a different matter. My husband is a professional photographer.  He doesn't do weddings, except on rare occasions for friends (including same-sex couples), because he is uncomfortable with the whole aesthetic of weddings, and it isn't his "thing."  But like most photographers, as a freelancer, he is at liberty to choose the work he wants to do.  There are plenty of photographers, I'm certain, that couples can call upon.  

    Public servants, like county clerks, on the other hand, either have to do their jobs, or they should find new ones.

    “If we, citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams.” ~ Yann Martel

    by SottoVoce on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:21:45 PM PST

  •  Yep. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sfbob, sethtriggs
    Joan Williams, clerk of the Saint Mary's County Circuit Court (I presume that state circuit courts coincide with county boundaries in Maryland),

    Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

    by dadadata on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:28:27 PM PST

  •  agreed (8+ / 0-)
    When I was hired it was impressed upon me that as a civil servant it was my duty to discharge my obligations without regard to my personal preferences and prejudices.
    Me, too. I've worked for the elections office, county clerk, constable, libraries...... I've always worked in the public sector. My bosses have always said we serve the public, all the public - agree, disagree, whatever. We don't get to make choices for the public. This is horribly wrong.
  •  I'm surprised here (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dharmafarmer, suesue, Naniboujou

    This diary made the rec list. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised; this is a contentious issue (and that's part of the reason I chose to post a diary on it).

    I appreciate all of the responses, even the ones I vehemently disagree with, believe it or not.

  •  Well, this is interesting. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra Waites, sfbob, skrekk

    This situation certainly pokes holes in the whole "call-it-anything-but-marriage-and-we'll-be-ok-with-it" argument.  After all, these are civil servants whose duty it is to perform civil ceremonies.

    Like most other jurisdictions in which Marriage Equality has been enacted, Maryland's statute explicitly exempts religious officials from the obligation to offer marriage solemnization to same-sex couples.  The State is not the church, however, and a civil servant is not a religious official. It would seem to me that these folks are simply refusing to fulfill their job duties and to uphold the law.

  •  Thing Is They're Not Infringing On the Couples. (4+ / 0-)

    They're going to serve the couples. Sure they're also supporting the bigotry of some of their staff, no denying that. But by pulling them completely off that duty, there's never a time where the couples have to deal with it or even know about it.

    At least this is far more benign than the case of a pharmacist that won't sell morning after, which means the customer has control of her life institutionally taken from her.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:46:37 PM PST

    •  Let's keep in mind, though, (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sfbob, LeftofArizona, skrekk, madhaus

      that we're talking about a Court - a place that is supposed to fairly and equitably administer the law.  I think it's abhorrent that a procedure has been put in place that allows some employees to circumvent that purpose.

      •  The purpose? (4+ / 0-)

        The PURPOSE is to allow same-sex couples to get married.  THAT is the purpose.  That purpose is being fufilled.

        The purpose isn't to get people fired.   The purpose isn't to shove it in their face 'til they choke.  The purpose it get allow same-sex couples to get married.

        Don't let your sense of schendenfreuden overcome the fact that we won.

        With every marriage, the outrage fades.  With every marriage, the next one becomes easier.  Time is the healer here (cf. Loving v Virginia).  Actually, really do read-read the history of Loving v Virginia.  The last anti-miscegenation laws were removed in 2000 (they weren't enforced, but they were on the books).  Let time move things in the right direction.  Everyone doesn't have to be happy, but why force them to be as unhappy as possible when it is unnecessary for the purpose?

        Minority rights should never be subject to majority vote.

        by lostboyjim on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 07:44:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It isn't about happiness/unhappiness. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sfbob, skrekk, madhaus

          In a Court of law, it's about administering the law fairly.  When it is your duty to enforce the laws, you can't pick and choose.  New York made it a misdemeanor to refuse to issue a marriage license to same sex couples, a reflection of their seriousness of purpose to administer the law equitably.  I hear what you are saying with regard to patience and the fact that, in this instance, marriage is still being made logistically possible.  Perhaps the reason I find this situation so offensive is that I do work in the field of law and it seems to me a perversion of what officers of the Court are obligated to do, which reflects poorly on the entire profession.

        •  Sure, you will be able to get married as long (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sfbob

          as you are willing to go on a waiting list and wait a few months or so for the one or two clerks willing to do marriages under those conditions.

          You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

          by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 10:03:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  How do you know there will be a waiting list now? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ConfusedSkyes, coffeetalk

            Do you have a link?

            •  No link, but since it is a rural area what (0+ / 0-)

              do you think will happen when they only have one or two people who can do marriages in that county?  They will probably have to relent on their "all marriages or no marriages" policy just to clear the backlog.

              You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

              by Throw The Bums Out on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 05:52:34 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  If that were to happen, that would NOT be (0+ / 0-)

                a "reasonable accommodation." "Reasonable accommodation" means that the changes can be made with minimal disruption, if any, to the workplace -- and if you can't adequately serve the people you are supposed to serve, that would be significant, impermissible disruption.  

                There's no indication in the story -- none, zero -- that, after these employees were reassigned to tasks where they do not perform ANY marriages, that there are now insufficient numbers of employees to perform marriages.  Presumably, those employees who will perform marriages will spend more time doing that, and those who won't perform marriages will pick up some of their other duties.  

                •  You keep repeating that over and over (0+ / 0-)

                  This about about the 7th time you've said this.  There's also no indication that the employees were all 100% efficiently reassigned.  That's just your wish based on no evidence.

        •  I'm sorry, but this is ridiculous (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sfbob, madhaus

          It's really quite simple. The law allows same-sex couples to marry. If you are a state government employee, and you can't carry out that law then fuck you--you can get another job. If a clerk is "unhappy" administering the law, then again, fuck them. They can either seethe and live in bitterness, or they can get a job at a church. I don't really care. Couldn't care less, in fact. It shouldn't be up to me or anybody else to see to it that state-paid clerks are "happy" carrying out the law.

          Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

          by Chrislove on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:34:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Also, I was raised fundamentalist (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sfbob

          And I have yet to hear of a biblical commandment not to hand out marriage licenses. When the clerks are forced to put on clergy robes and perform religious marriage ceremonies, then we can talk.

          Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

          by Chrislove on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:43:19 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I think you are reading this ENTIRELY wrong. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coffeetalk, winsock, MRA NY

    What is being done is that they are saying you can EITHER marry ANYONE who has the legal right to OR you don't get to do ANY.

    You do not get to pick and choose.  And most consider it a privilege to be able to perform the ceremony, so what is being done is EXACTLY the right thing.  

    Moreover, you can't fire someone for being their religious beliefs, no matter how wrongheaded they are, as long as they don't impose them on others in a discriminatory way, and this solution precludes that from happening.  Besides, why on Earth would you want to be married by someone who is opposed to the fact of you doing so?  This also has the effect of removing that possibility.

    I think it is a good solution, that will hopefully have a relatively short period of usefulness.

    Certainly from our standpoint, this gives us a sense of momentum -- when the United States has accolades tossed its way, rather than shoes. - PJ Crowley

    by nsfbr on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 07:54:43 PM PST

    •  Yes, seems a reasonable solution. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      coffeetalk, DarienComp

      Worker: I don't want to do job A.
      Employer: But you must.
      Worker: I hate doing job A because God.
      Employer: Whatever.  Here, do job B instead.

      I don't see a problem provided job A is still being done by someone.

      Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out.

      by winsock on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 08:51:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  How about... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        winsock, skrekk

        Employer: "Here, do job B instead. And even though job B pays less than Job A, we'll pretend that there is no pay differential."

        Would that still be a reasonable solution? Or would it in effect be giving someone a raise in exchange for reduction of responsibility?

        •  Clearly (0+ / 0-)

          the worker should be paid the job B rate.

          But I've had situations with my employees where a worker can no longer do some tasks because of a disability.  I've simply reassigned them to do other tasks and others take up the slack.  No cuts in pay.  There are a lot of tasks that need doing anyway and in many cases the workers can divide up the responsibilities among themselves so that everyone is happy.

          Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out.

          by winsock on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 07:41:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have been in the position, though not lately (0+ / 0-)

            where I was ill and my co-workers split up my work just so it would get done. Of course I was on paid sick leave so it isn't quite the same thing.

            That was a temporary situation though, and was based on inability, not unwillingness, to perform my job.

            •  Is it much different from (0+ / 0-)

              for example, accommodating a Jewish worker who wants to leave work early Fridays and/or take Saturdays off to observe the Sabbath?

              Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out.

              by winsock on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 09:24:21 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes it is (0+ / 0-)

                Because typically you expect someone whose work hours get adjusted for religious observance to give those hours back in some fashion or other.

                I can take the Jewish High Holidays off from work using leave that I have not yet earned, but I do have to restore my leave balance or else I lose the corresponding amount of pay.

                •  I'd also expect (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  sfbob

                  workers who object to doing certain tasks that are part of their overall job description to perform other, commensurate tasks to compensate.  If not performing certain tasks mean they work fewer hours, then, of course they'd be paid for only the hours they actually work.

                  Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out.

                  by winsock on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 09:42:38 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Tiny bit of media history quibbling... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skrekk, madhaus

    The San Francisco Examiner under Hearst was never a tabloid. It was always a broadsheet, and often a pretty darned good one, capturing a lot of the special flavor of the City. I used to prefer it to the dull morning Chronicle back in the 1980s.

    When Hearst sold the Ex and bought the Chron in the 1990s, the Ex really died. It was only the name that survived under the subsequent ownership, and it became one of those freebie rags that shows up in the puddle at the foot of the driveway whether you want it there or not.

    Intended to be a factual statement.

    by ipsos on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 08:22:12 PM PST

    •  You are correct (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skrekk, madhaus

      Though I never held the broadsheet version of the SF Examiner in particularly high esteem (nor the Chronicle, I hasten to add), it was didn't become a tabloid until the Heart organization disposed of it.

      I do find it ironic that the various other "Examiners" now owned by Philip Anschutz have adopted the logo of the broadsheet version while also adopting the tabloid format of the Fang family and their successors.

  •  This is a fine legal solution (4+ / 0-)

    but it's not a moral one.  

    I feel like that's where some of the disconnect comes in, in the responses to this diary.  

    I'm fine with this decision as a way to solve the legal problem.  As for the moral problem?  I say we find out which clerks and have a kiss-in on their front lawns.  :)

  •  agreed totally - except for this line early on in (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sfbob, dharmafarmer

    the piece:

    As most here know, voters in the state of Maryland recently voted to reaffirm a marriage equality bill passed this spring by the state legislature and signed by Governor O'Malley. The vote in favor, which took place because the usual subjects insisted upon placing the legislation on the ballot for a "citizens' veto" was somewhat close, but we won by 52% to 48%. This is, of course, a demonstration of why civil rights really should to be subjected to the "will of the majority."

    [emphasis added]

    I believe, from reading your postings here for many years now, that you meant that this Vote of the People, was a referendum in support by The People on the earlier vote of the State Congress and your Governor.

    But I have to say to you that you must re-word that idea.

    As it stands, I could never agree with it.

    The Majority should NEVER have a vote on the Civil Rights of anyone. Ever.

    Why not?

    Because Rights can be neither conferred not removed by the Will of the Majority, Rights are inalienable by any force in this world.

    They cannot and should not be voted on by anyone.

    How then to garner access to Rights currently unacknowledged or explicitly denied by either Federal or State Law? File suit and let the Courts determine where the Law stands - it's how we as a people, as a nation, have determined such fights should occur, and the Constitution says so.

    Article 3, Section 2:

    The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority;--to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls;--to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction;--to controversies to which the United States shall be a party;--to controversies between two or more states;--between a state and citizens of another state;--between citizens of different states;--between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.


    "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization" -- me

    by Angie in WA State on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 09:05:17 PM PST

  •  Just wait (0+ / 0-)

    if SCOTUS were to issue a broad ruling favoring ME nationwide, there would be years of even more ridiculous crap especially from Southern states (though I think a punt or in some way limited ruling much more likely, unfortunately).

    •  I can't foresee such an outcome (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skrekk, bythesea

      Though I would dearly love it. Not now at any rate.

      The the most likely result at this point would be:

      1. Once marriage equality is granted it cannot be revoked. (Prop 8) and

      2. A legal marriage between two adults, unrelated by birth and not obtained under false purposes (such as to evade immigration laws) must be recognized by the federal government as valid for the purpose of bestowing rights and obligations at the federal level, and

      3. No state will be required to perform same-sex marriages but such marriages entered into legally elsewhere must be acknowledged for certain purposes such as the granting of divorce and the enforcement of child custody arrangements made in other places. The Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution wouldn't require a state without marriage equality to allow a same-sex couple to file income taxes jointly, but it WOULD require that any legal proceeding pertinent to such a marriage be recognized and honored. If a state were to refuse to recognize a legally-entered same sex marriage for the purpose of enforcing anti-nepotism statutes in hiring, that would be the state's prerogative but it would be a very foolish thing to do.

      One of the more interesting and irrational aspects of DOMA is that it pretends that a gay married couple has, at the federal, no cognizable relationship when it comes to court testimony and (of course) anti-nepotism rules related to hiring. I work for the federal government. My partner and I are not married, nor are we in a California domestic partnership. Were we to be married or domestically partnered (or civilly-unioned) however, and were he to apply for a federal job, he would be under no legal obligation to disclose this fact in his job application, while a man married to a female federal employee most certainly would be required to make this disclosure on a job application. There are other nonsensical implications as well having to do with such things as granting federal contracts and the like.

  •  Sad (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dharmafarmer, jayden, sfbob

    Well, we do live in an environment where those in government seemingly want to destroy it... so I suppose this is now par for the course.

  •  Prejudice in the name of God, once again. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dharmafarmer, jayden, sfbob

    It never ceases to astound me.

  •  Just another step toward the intractable civil war (0+ / 0-)

    that's coming in this country. "My side is right, your side is wrong, and you must be defeated."

    Ash-sha'b yurid isqat an-nizzam!

    by fourthcornerman on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 11:23:06 PM PST

  •  While I understand what you are saying (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ConfusedSkyes

    I don't think that it was unreasonable for Ms Williams to handle it this way.

    She is moving people out of positions where they perform marriages and into other positions, if they are not on board with same-sex marriages. As the person responsible to assign responsibilities for these employees, she is just being practical. She wants to put people in roles where they are most comfortable, if she can, during the transition period, and avoid a kerfuffle while people continue to become more accustomed to adjusting their thinking about the definition of marriage.

    When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in excess body fat & carrying a misspelled sign.

    by InsultComicDog on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 11:43:31 PM PST

    •  Her action raises some questions (7+ / 0-)

      1. Is the number of people on staff who are qualified and willing to marry all who apply sufficient to meet the demand?

      2. Is there any pay disparity  between those who do and those who do not issue marriage licenses and perform marriages?

      3. Are marriages and marriage licenses available at only one location?

      The second question is, I think, the most pertinent one. To me at any rate it seems that, if there is some pay premium for those directly involved in the issuance of licenses and the performance of marriages than if anyone is excused from performing either task is allowed to do other things without a decrease in pay, those individuals who are excused are in effect being favored.

      The first one is also pertinent. If it happens, as a result of Williams' actions, that ALL couples are inconvenienced because there is no longer adequate staff available to perform marriages two things occur to me. Cutting available staff for no reason other than not to "offend" some of them is a very poor precedent to set. Again, there is an attempt to protect some individuals from the responsibilities of their job for no other reason than that they manifest some prejudice.

      I can honestly say that in all my 36 years of federal service, the only time I've been asked whether I was comfortable performing a certain task was when I might not have the requisite skills to do it or when the task to be performed was of questionable validity under other rules. It was never a matter of who I was or was not comfortable about interacting with. As I've said repeatedly, as a civil servant my job is to serve everyone to the best of my ability without regard to my personal prejudices. It has been necessary, and I've been told repeatedly that it was NECESSARY to put my prejudices aside regardless of their basis. I am not given the option of providing services to some portion of the public and not others who I would otherwise deal with.

      My belief is that Ms Williams is encouraging encouraging behavior that is at best unprofessional and is potentially illegal.

      •  I neglected to address the third question (4+ / 0-)

        If the answer is "no" then there is less of a problem in terms of providing, or appearing to provide, disparate services depending on the personal characteristics of the persons being served. If on the other hand there are multiple places where the service is provided but if it may not be available on any given day at any location (where it would otherwise be available) to ANYONE, gay or straight, simply because an administrative decision has been made to excuse available staff from performing some portion of their stated duties then there really is a problem.

  •  The clerks, apparently, don't understand their (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dharmafarmer, sfbob, skrekk, madhaus

    function. Neither they, nor justices of the peace, nor religious ministers can marry anyone but their own spouse. Marriage is a contract between two natural persons to which various public officials can attest by recording and issuing certificates.
    Refusing to issue a marriage certificate is insubordinate, just as it would be if they refused to issue birth certificates or receipts to indicate taxes have been paid. Public officials, for the most part, are record keepers. The issuance of a permit is, as Justice Kennedy says, "not a matter of grace;" it's their job.
    For a comparable service, think of getting a letter certified at the Post Office. What you get is documentary evidence of having sent a letter. Whether or not it gets where it is going is another matter and requires a receipt, another document.

    The issuance of a document does not effect an act; it merely provides notice. Contractual obligations can exist without documentation, but it helps to have some because people are often forgetful and/or careless of their obligations. Which is why, for another example, people invented money, a visible and tangible token of obligations. Every dollar in circulation is evidence of a debt or obligation which our federal government certifies will be carried out by someone at some time in the future. Dollars are an aide memoire. The determination that some people should not be entitled to use them is an abrogation of responsibility. Congress presuming to collect more dollars than they pay out is an effort to ration something that should be in plentiful supply. And rationing always leads to hoarding. So, the Congressional effort to ration dollars is actually causing what Congress claims to abhor -- a sluggish economy in which the turnover of dollars has slowed to a trickle.
    http://research.stlouisfed.org/...

    The behavior of the Maryland county clerks and the Congress are related in that both are abrogating obligations and arrogating powers to which they are not entitled by their official positions. The clerks are supposed to issue certificates of marital obligation and the Congress is supposed to issue certificates of material obligation. Neither are authorized to deprive natural persons of their rights.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 02:38:08 AM PST

  •  Yup, free reign is the best kind! (0+ / 0-)
    As far as I can tell Anschutz seems to give the local editorial boards pretty much free reign in their coverage.
    Or else you'd live in a dictatorship, right?  So like George W. Bush said "Let freedom reign"  (which, btw, made a nice addition to my list of oxymorons!).
    •  Well no (0+ / 0-)

      Anschutz could for example direct that the editorial boards of the papers he controls never issue opinions supporting gun control for example.

      That wouldn't be censorship; only governments can censor.

      But it appears that it doesn't work that way; that the editors of his papers publish, as the paper's views, opinions that are generally reflective of the sorts of communities they serve rather than a standardized, one-size-fits all approach. Of course that is probably just a good business decision.

  •  and yet, she, and the deputy clerks, will get (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden, skrekk, sfbob

    away with what amounts to a refusal to do the job they're getting paid for, by the tax paying public. because of their "deeply held, personal beliefs".

    i too am a gov't employee. it was impressed upon me, from day one, that while i'm perfectly entitled to my personal opinions, those opinions have no place in the performance of my job. when i was sworn in, i affirmed my acceptance of my duty to perform my job as objectively as i possibly could. should i find myself in a position where that objectivity could possibly be questioned, it is my responsibility to request that i be recused from the case, so as to avoid even the appearance of a lack of independence and objectivity.

    in public service, your primary asset is your integrity. if people no longer automatically assume you're operating with it, your usefullness is completely lost.

  •  This civil servant agrees with everything here. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sfbob

    Well spoken.

    "Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself." - Robert G. Ingersoll

    by Apost8 on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 06:07:10 AM PST

  •  IF the clerk is reassigning (0+ / 0-)

    her deputies so that they have no marriage duties (here the same clerk's office would handle gun permits and probate matters so there are totally different jobs to do) it seems like she managed to split the baby.  I don't like that she was willing to do it, but I also hate the idea of firing people.  And there is law that some reasonable accomodation be made for religious beliefs.   Whether any religion should hold such a belief is not for the government to decide but for people to decide by leaving that kind of church/religion.

  •  Religion. You cannot refuse to do your job (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Smoh, skrekk, sfbob

    for most any old reason, but you can refuse to do anything if religion, 'cause god, and stuff.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 07:36:36 AM PST

  •  Maybe I'm a contrarian, but... (0+ / 0-)

    I don't see a very big problem here.

    If anyone was denied their marriage because nobody would do it, that's a problem.

    But it says "assigned to others."

    So, everybody gets their service, and nobody has to do anything they believe is immoral. Win, win.

    Surely, the goal for the same-sex couples is to get married, not "make someone whose beliefs they don't share uncomfortable." And surely that marriage is going to be more pleasant if the person behind the desk at the clerk's office smiles and congratulates the couple, rather than shoving the forms at them and scowling.

    Couldn't this action have been taken to make the marriage experience more pleasant for everyone? Why does it have to be interpreted as an anti-gay action?

    Nobody is being denied. The clerk has just ensured that the person handing the action won't inject their personal beliefs into it.

    You can read this as "you don't have to if you don't approve," or you can read it as "be nice or be reassigned."

    Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

    by elsaf on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:00:12 AM PST

    •  Were I to tell my boss (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      madhaus

      that I didn't wish to serve a specific patron because doing so offended my religion, I don't think his solution would be to assign me other duties without also reducing my salary and placing some scathing criticism in my personnel record.

      As a civil servant I don't have a right to decide which members get the services I dispense and which do not.

      Allowing subordinates to such a thing, regardless of how it's accomplished, is enabling a breach of public trust.

      •  I don't see where anyone asked (0+ / 0-)

        The boss offered. The required services will be provided. Nobody will be harmed.

        The question is:

        Are the couples coming to the clerk's office to get married? In that case, they are going to get exactly what they're paying taxes for.

        Or are they coming to the clerk's office to see if they can force someone to do something the other person believes is wrong? Then they're going to be disappointed.

        Do you think that the people with religious objections are suddenly going to change their minds if they are forced to participate in something they think is wrong?

        Attitudes are changing. They will change all the faster if everyone plays nice.

        Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

        by elsaf on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 01:22:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  When you go to the clerk's office to obtain (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          madhaus

          a service you are legally entitled to, you are not "forcing" anyone to do anything other than their job.

          Point two: If nobody asked to be excused from issuing licenses or performing marriages, then what was the point of Williams' action in the first place? She has already stated that some of her deputies "feel uncomfortable" with same-sex marriages, so apparently her employees have already asked--in some form or another--to be excused from having to do their job when it comes to serving gay or lesbian couples.

          If you ask the supervising clerk whether you really have to have to provide marriage licenses to people who are entitled to them, the best response, and in fact the only acceptable response, would be "Yes you do."

          Nobody is being asked to do ANYTHING they believe to be wrong. None of the deputy clerks is being asked to enter into a same-sex marriage himself or herself. The law requires that they be provided to those who ask for them, nothing more than that.

          Marriage equality becomes legal in Maine tomorrow at midnight. It appears that some individuals in that state are trying to get the local clerks of the court to refuse to issue licenses to gay and lesbian couples there as well. From another site I picked up the following response which I think is quite apt:

          You know, I might have some iota of concern about these noble “Christian” clerks if they had ever objected to any of the heretics, blasphemers, fornicators and adulterers they’ve been serving, apparently without incident, for their entire careers. But to arbitrarily draw the line at homosexuals – so it’s fine for them to issue licenses to some hetero guy with monogamy issues who’s on his 5th or 6th wedding, but not TEH GAYZ – sorry, that just doesn’t fly.
        •  With respect to "playing nice" (0+ / 0-)

          I give you Judy Collins.

  •  Not that I totally agree with it but... (0+ / 0-)

    The clerk seemed to have a found a reasonable and workable solution by taking away all marriage duties from the same-sex objectors. The only deputy clerks that will be performing marriages will be those that are okay with whomever walks in the door.

    The other deputy clerks will get to do more of whatever else they do in the County Clerk's office.  I have to imagine that performing marriage is lot more fun than filing paperwork or giving out dog licenses.

    If she had just fired them for not doing their job, most likely she would end up having to deal with endless lawsuits.

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