The Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund) is advising government clerks in Delaware that they can refuse to do their job and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on their religious beliefs. This is, of course, absolutely false.
A legal memo issued Friday advises clerks of the peace and their deputies that provisions in state law allow them to authorize a deputy to solemnize a marriage in the case of absence or disability. The memo explains that because the state offers an exemption to clerks in these cases, it also has an obligation to exempt clerks if their conscience prevents them from solemnizing certain relationships.
“No American should be forced to give up a freedom protected by the First Amendment, and no American should be coerced to give up his or her career to maintain that freedom,” said Litigation Counsel Kellie Fiedorek. “Religious freedom is guaranteed to every American, including those authorized to solemnize marriages under Delaware law. No one should have to choose between their conscience and their job in America.”
Nope. Wrong. They can’t refuse to issue a marriage license to a gay couple any more than they could refuse to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple, no matter how sincerely they hold a religious belief that demands that they do so. No one would think for a moment that a clerk’s religious freedom would allow them to refuse to issue driver’s licenses to women or black people and that is precisely the same situation. On the job, they are the government and the government cannot discriminate in this manner. This is not even remotely controversial, nor should it be.