S.C. Republican Wants to Allow Govt. Clerks to Discriminate

Sen. Lee Bright, who appears to be anything but, of South Carolina has filed a bill that would allow government officials to refuse to perform their duties if they don’t morally approve of the person standing in front of them. Because something something “religious freedom.”

A South Carolina state senator is introducing a bill that would allow judges and other public officials to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples without facing punishment.

Sen. Lee Bright, a Republican, prefiled the legislation last week, ahead of the legislative session that begins in January, Columbia TV station WLTX reports. “The bill would protect people employed in probate or clerk or court offices from liability or punishments if they object to granting same-sex marriage licenses based on a sincere religious belief,” the station notes. In South Carolina, probate judges’ offices issue marriage licenses.

“At the end of the day I want to know I did all I could, and I think it’s something we need to do to protect these judges so they can serve in these honorable positions without feeling like they betrayed their faith,” Bright told WLTX.

Let me translate that for you: “I want to know I did all I could to make sure gay people continue to be discriminated against and treated like second class citizens the way God intended it.” But see, there’s this pesky little thing called the 14th Amendment, which guarantees to all Americans the “equal protection of the laws.” That means the government and those who work for it don’t get to pick and choose whether someone is allowed to receive a legal benefit that everyone else is entitled to. A clerk or a magistrate can no more refuse to issue a marriage license to a gay couple where it is legal than they can refuse an interracial or interreligious couple — and it doesn’t matter what their religion has to say about it.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • dugglebogey

    My religion prohibits tight ass white guys from running for office. I’m sorry you can’t register to run man, but that’s what the law says.

  • D. C. Sessions

    But see, there’s this pesky little thing called the 14th Amendment, which guarantees to all Americans the “equal protection of the laws.” That means the government and those who work for it don’t get to pick and choose whether someone is allowed to receive a legal benefit that everyone else is entitled to.

    Only until the next Republica joins the Supreme Court.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    I hope this passes, if only to allow clerks, with sincere religious belief, to refuse to file any further bills from him.

    Sure, The Gays will have experienced a temporary setback, but surely the irony will get them through this.

    In any event, if they apply at the whichever County Probate Judge’s office I’m at (they move me around a lot, on account of me not technically being “employed” there) and I’ll be happy to help. I’ll be the guy behind the counter, in the Speedo, wrestling with security, swearing profusely.

  • U Frood

    Unfortunately it sounds like it’s very tightly targeted. This only applies to people who object to gay marriage. He’s not about to let that clerks object to things HE approves of slack off on the job.

  • Alverant

    Let me guess, the ones who don’t discriminate are going to find themselves out of a job.

  • monimonika

    U Frood,

    IANAL, so I am not up to snuff on legalities, but wouldn’t the fact that it is targeted solely on same-sex marriages make it obviously discriminatory against a particular group of people rather than about protecting religious freedoms (and thus clearly unconstitutional)?

  • Francisco Bacopa

    This is troubling, but I am sure there are and will be a few counties in SC where gay couples can marry with no fuss. And yes, if this law is mostly just a way for JP’s and clerks to refuse to marry people, it would not survive any kind of federal court challenge, but by the time any case got there, marriage equality would be nationwide and the public in states that had such laws would have had a while to get used to marriage equality.

    There are a few ideas about similar laws kicking around here in Texas. Local federal courts here have ruled that marriage equality should be allowed in Texas, but the appeals court approved Abbot’s request for a stay and kicked up the issue to the 5th Circuit in New Orleans, which will begin hearings next month.

    Everyone talks about how the 5th Circuit is so conservative. But they aren’t really. The 5th is essentially a pro-oil extraction and anti-labor court. Us folks on the Gulf Coast call them the BP, Monsanto, and DuPont court. But they don’t really strike me as social conservatives. The 5th could easily let lower court rulings stand and put Texas on the right course by the end of January.

  • peterh

    But . . . but . . . but . . . those who are right minded will be like minded. Yes?

    //nah//

  • a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    My sincerely held religious beliefs prohibit my taking idiots seriously, so if this passes, can I ignore Bright?

  • http://archiveofbabel.wordpress.com/ archivistkristine

    They are just desperate, aren’t they?

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Will Dawkins & Dennett officially retract their “Brights” suggestion now?

  • sunsangnim

    So they want judges and other officials to ignore the law and follow only their personal religious beliefs? Cue the montage of conservatives screaming about “activist judges”.