County Clerks Must Make Tough Decision on Gay Marriage

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On Tuesday, an Arkansas county clerk announced her resignation, making her the first of what may turn out to be many government officials who cannot square their religious beliefs with the sudden legality of same-sex marriage.

Cleburne County’s Dana Guffey said, “It is definitely a moral conviction for me. I didn’t announce anything publicly or on social media or anything because I didn’t want my decision to be seen as hateful. I know some people will look at it like that, but this wasn’t easy. It wasn’t a decision I made lightly. And I do not hate anybody.”

The move has Guffey leaving a job she’s held for 24 years, but she says that she had no choice but to follow her convictions.

Last Friday, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a statement directing all government offices to obey the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage. “The Supreme Court has issued a decision, and that decision must be followed.”

Assuming this pattern will repeat in all 50 states, county clerks across the country will find themselves forced to make a choice. For some, of course, there is no choice to be made. If you support the Supreme Court’s decision, you have it made. For those who think the court got it wrong, however, the choice will be excruciating. The fact that Dana Guffey had to leave a job she’d held for almost a quarter of a century demonstrates the immediate impact of the ruling. Without religious exemptions, the state of same-sex marriage in America puts millions in a very tough position.

Fairness for All

In advocating for same-sex marriage, the LGBT community claimed that it was all about love. It was all about fairness. But few within that community are concerned about the religious conservatives who are being forced to choose between their beliefs and their income. They’ve decided that anyone who is against gay marriage is an automatic bigot. After fighting against stereotypes and misconceptions for thirty years, they seem unable to empathize even slightly with those who disagree with their agenda.

This could have all been avoided. If the Supreme Court was not thoroughly eaten up with political ideology, we could have left this decision to the states. We could have given the people a voice. We could have looked at civil unions as a way to fairly unite gay couples without defying the traditional definition of marriage. We could have taken a Rand Paul approach and separated “marriage” and government.

Instead, the Supreme Court decided to make history, claiming that gay marriage was somehow protected under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. And now the First of those amendments – the one that actually protects religious freedom – is in jeopardy. The court has a history of bad rulings, but this was one of their worst.