Saturday, December 24, 2016

Federal court: no conflict between practicing Christian faith, processing same-sex marriage licenses

Stating that there is “no objective conflict” between one’s duties as a deputy county clerk and “religious opposition to same-sex marriage,” a federal district court has ruled that an Indiana county was justified in firing a deputy county clerk who declined to process same-sex marriage licenses.

Linda Summers, who was fired after she made known her opposition to processing the licenses because of her religious convictions, maintained that her beliefs could have been accommodated by assigning the processing to other employees of the Harrison County clerk’s office.

Judge Richard Young, who had previously struck down Indiana’s law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, ruled:
At bottom, she was simply tasked with certifying—on behalf of the state of Indiana, not on her own behalf—that the couple was qualified to marry under Indiana law. The duties were purely administrative.
To be clear, Summers did not perform marriage ceremonies or personally sign marriage licenses or certificates. She was not required to attend ceremonies, say congratulations, offer a blessing, or pray with couples. Her employer did not make her express religious approval or condone any particular marriage.
Summers remained free to practice her Christian faith and attend church services. She was even free to maintain her belief that marriage is a union between one man and one woman. Thus, she was not forced to “choose between [her] religious convictions and [her] job.”
The judge added that the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans discrimination on the basis of religion, “is not a license for employees to perform only those duties that meet their private approval.”

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