Thursday, July 9, 2015

Asking them for advice?

Yay! The Confederate flag will be removed from the South Carolina Capitol grounds in a ceremony tomorrow morning. The vote in the House was a delightful 94-20. Gov. Nikki Haley quickly signed the bill. Bye!

Chris Jobe is clerk in Lawrence County, Kentucky and president of the Kentucky Clerks Association. He sent a letter to Gov. Steve Beshear saying that 57 county clerks, nearly half of those in the state, face conflict between religious beliefs and job duties over issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Jobe asked Beshear to (according to the Louisville Courier-Journal) "call a special session of the state legislature to address the issue of gay marriage licenses." Beshear responded, what is there to address? The Supremes have spoken.

Attention has been so focused on Texas, Louisiana, and elsewhere in the South there hasn't been much news about Kansas. Same-sex couples have been marrying in the state since November, but other things that go with it have been made difficult to impossible. Only a couple days ago did Gov. Sam Brownback finally tell state agencies they have to provide marriage benefits to same-sex couples and to allow marriage-related name changes. As part of his executive order he also added,
Today's Executive Order protects Kansas clergy and religious organizations from being forced to participate in activities that violate their sincerely and deeply held beliefs.
Equality Kansas says that sentence and the few that follow are one part scare tactic and one part suggestion that religious based social services my discriminate against gays and lesbian couples.

In Alabama 13 counties have stopped issuing marriage licenses to anyone, gay or straight. In other state news, the Alabama Supreme Court asked two conservative advocacy groups for advice. I'll pause here a moment to ask, Huh? The state's highest justices are asking a policy institute and a think tank (likely not made up of lawyers or legal scholars) for advice? Then again, these groups are peddling what the justices want to hear: a state court has the power to refuse to accept what the Supremes have ruled, and they have a constitutional duty to protect state officials with religious objections. Hey, guys, there is only one place this case can go: the US Supreme Court. Have fun!

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