Sunday, October 19, 2014

North Carolina Magistrate Quits to Avoid Gay Weddings // Plus: Wedding Chapels Struggle to be Anti-Gay in Marriage Equality States

Remember that older gay couple in North Carolina who tried marrying each other, but got refused service by one of the local magistrates? Magistrates statewide were reminded that they are required to serve the public -- not just the portions of the public that they approve of. Since then, at least one magistrate has resigned due to religious objections to same-sex marriage:
Magistrate John Kallam Jr. sent a letter to Chief District Court Judge Fred Wilkins and said he couldn’t fulfill his oath of office after same-sex marriage became legal in North Carolina. His resignation is effective Oct. 31. 

“When I took my oath of office, I understood I would be required to perform weddings and have done so throughout my tenure,” Kallam said in an emailed resignation letter. “I did not, however, take that oath with any understanding that I would be required to marry same sex couples. It is my personal belief and a position of my Christian faith that doing so would desecrate a holy institution established by God himself.”
Keep in mind that his job is to officiate over civil wedding ceremonies -- presumably to couples who have no professed faith or church community. Otherwise, they would be getting married in a house of worship as opposed to going to the local magistrate. But I digress...

I actually have no problem with Magistrate Kallam resigning. I'm hopeful that he will find a new job that works for him.

Meanwhile, wedding chapels in other states are struggling to cope with marriage equality in their states. For example, it's difficult for same-sex couples in Las Vegas, NV, to find an Elvis-themed wedding venue:
After making calls to about 15 wedding chapels, 8 News NOW found that several of them refused to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples. The Elvis Wedding Chapel, which welcomes traditional and Elvis-themed weddings, said they wouldn't marry same-sex couples...

Dolly Deleon, the owner of the Vegas Wed Chapel, said she's a born-again believer in Jesus. "My faith won't allow me," Deleon said. She said she's been asked to wed same-sex couples before, but has found that mostly people accept it when she says no... "I would be a hypocrite if I said I'm a Bible-believing person and yet I would perform marriage that believe is solely against God's law,” Deleon said.
Because God's law is best practiced while wearing an Elvis Presley costume.

And then there is the Hitching Post Lakeside Chapel which filed a lawsuit against the city of Coeur d'Alene, ID, over a public nondiscrimination ordinance that bars local businesses from discriminating against customers on the basis of sexual orientation, among other categories such as race and gender:
“The government should not force ordained ministers to act contrary to their faith under threat of jail time and criminal fines,” Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Jeremy Tedesco said. “The city is on seriously flawed legal ground, and our lawsuit intends to ensure that this couple’s freedom to adhere to their own faith as pastors is protected just as the First Amendment intended.”
Alliance Defending Freedom also filed a temporary restraining order to stop the city from enforcing the ordinance.
It would be interesting long-term if the need for some people to discriminate against LGBT customers will ultimately result in the overturn of anti-discrimination laws for others on the basis of race, religion, gender, disability, veterans status, etc.

Personally, I'm tired of anti-gay religious folks taking on martyr status. I wonder if it would be better to give these businesses a grace period to get used to the idea of gays marrying. Either their businesses will naturally die out or else they'll realize that it's really not that big a deal.

Or maybe these businesses need to learn how to more discreetly turn away gay customers. Instead of saying something like... "Is this a gay wedding?? This is a decent Elvis wedding chapel. Our faith forbids us from performing gay weddings!" How about something like... "What was that date again? Oh, I'm sorry. We're totally booked up!" If nothing else, you still get to avoid performing a gay wedding and you don't come off like a total douche.

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