Conservatives Hope Marriage Discrimination Persists In Rhode Island And Minnesota

Al Giraud and Jeff Isaacson married this morning by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak (DFL).

CREDIT: David Joles, Star Tribune

Marriage equality has officially taken effect in Minnesota and Rhode Island, but conservatives are hoping that same-sex couples will still face discrimination when they seek legal recognition for their commitments. The Alliance Defending Freedom is encouraging clerks and registars in both states to refuse to do their jobs by refusing marriage licenses to same-sex couples if issuing them would “violate their faith or conscience.” Instead, ADF suggests, they can appoint someone else to do the job for them:

Alliance Defending Freedom is advising officials responsible for issuing marriage licenses in Rhode Island and Minnesota that they do not have to violate their faith or conscience by personally issuing licenses to applicants who are of the same sex. […]

In Rhode Island, for example, the memo states that, in light of the state’s new law “redefining marriage to include same-sex couples,” some county clerks “might believe that they face a serious dilemma: either resign their positions or violate their sincerely held religious or moral beliefs by being forced by state law to issue marriage licenses to relationships inconsistent with those beliefs.” The memo explains, however, that those officials can resolve this potential dilemma by appointing “a deputy clerk with full authority to perform all acts necessary to issue, administer, or process the marriage licenses of same-sex couples should a conflict arise.”

ADF is encouraging these clerks to not do the jobs they were paid to do — and in fact to force taxpayers to pay an additional person to perform the same duties. The job responsibilities have changed slightly, and if they are not prepared to fulfill them, then they are no longer qualified for the job. Just as someone opposed to women’s right to choose should avoid a job in an abortion clinic, so too should anti-gay individuals avoid positions that require them to provide a service recognizing same-sex couples.


Further, ADF’s argument for protecting these clerk’s consciences actually demonstrates their anti-LGBT animus. The organization opposes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would extend job protections to LGBT Americans under Title VII, arguing sexual orientation and gender identity are not immutable like race, color, and ethnicity. Even though sexual orientation and gender identity are immutable identities, religion is not, but it too is protected under Title VII. It’s that exact protection that ADF argues should protect clerks who wish to discriminate against same-sex couples.

Thus, ADF’s claims are about religious privilege, not liberty. It believes people’s religion should be accommodated under law while people’s sexual orientation should not. Fortunately, for same-sex couples in Rhode Island and Minnesota, there’s little ADF can do to prevent them from marrying. (HT: Jeremy Hooper.)