I rarely get involved in politics; it’s a nasty business that turns even the most mild-mannered individual into a ranting lunatic at best. However, this time, I’m okay beating the hornet’s nest with my very big stick.
When Justice Roberts penned the majority opinion for the recent landmark case Obergefell v. Hodges, he stated that
The right to marry is fundamental as a matter of history and tradition, but rights come
not from ancient sources alone. They rise, too, from a better informed understanding of how constitutional imperatives define a liberty that remains urgent in our own era. Many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here. But when that sincere, personal opposition becomes enacted law and public policy, the necessary consequence is to put the imprimatur of the State itself on an exclusion that soon demeans or stigmatizes those whose own liberty is then denied. Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right.
The right of same-sex couples to marry that is part of the liberty promised by the Fourteenth Amendment is derived, too, from that Amendment’s guarantee of the
equal protection of the laws. The Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause are connected in a profound way, though they set forth independent principles. Rights
implicit in liberty and rights secured by equal protection may rest on different precepts and are not always coextensive, yet in some instances each may be instructive
as to the meaning and reach of the other. In any particular case one Clause may be thought to capture the essence of the right in a more accurate and comprehensive way,
even as the two Clauses may converge in the identification and definition of the right. See
M. L. B. , 519 U. S., at 120–121;id. , at 128–129 (KENNEDY, J., concurring in judgment);
Bearden v.Georgia, 461 U. S. 660, 665 (1983). This interrelation of the two principles furthers our understanding of what freedom is and must become.
Now, I’m just beginning my career in criminal justice and Constitutional studies, and I do understand that there are nuances to our laws because of case-law examples that have been provided through the ages, but the literal text of Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment states that
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. (Source: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_amendments_11-27.html)
As so many more eloquent writers and speakers than myself have highlighted, civil marriage, which is what has ultimately been contested, is a civil privilege granted by the United States government.
You know what that means? For all of those who serve their local governments as Clerks of the Roster or other equivalent positions, the moment that you swore an Oath of Office to accept your government position, you gave up your right to your religious liberties on the job. Your job, as an agent of the United States government, is to uphold the laws and policies from the top down. Which includes the issuing of civil marriage licenses to those parties who request them. At your job, as a representative of the State, you uphold the United States Constitution’s directives, whether they come directly from the text or from the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), which serves as the de facto authority on Constitutional Law.
To that note, it is NOT an infringement on your religious liberties to do your job and issue a marriage certificate to a couple, be they same or opposite sex. It IS, however, a dereliction of duty if you fail to do so because you claim that your “religious beliefs tell you not to”.
What this ultimately boils down to is that your religious beliefs should not infringe upon your ability to complete a civil process. You do not get to “morally argue” a couple’s civil marriage; if you want to do that, quit your job as a government employee and join the clergy. I am not here to argue whether or not your religious beliefs are valid or not; I will always err on the side of Justice and Equality, however, as they are two of the core tenets that our country was founded on. . . And that does include your right to express your religious beliefs — Outside of a civil service/government position and in your home and community.