A county judge in Kentucky refuses to marry atheists.
In an egregious violation of the U.S. Constitution, Trigg County Judge Hollis Alexander refused to marry a couple because they were atheists requesting a secular ceremony.
According to a report filed by Friendly Atheist, Judge Alexander refused to marry Mandy Heath and her fiance because they are both non-religious, and they didn’t want any mention of God in their secular marriage ceremony.
When Heath went to file the necessary paperwork at the local courthouse on the day before their wedding, Judge Alexander explained that he would not perform the legal ceremony because of his sincerely held religious beliefs.
In attempting to justify why he was refusing to perform his legal duty and honor the request for a simple, secular wedding, Judge Alexander declared:
I will be unable to perform your wedding ceremony… I include God in my ceremonies and I won’t do one without.
Reporting on Judge Alexander’s despicable behavior, the Freedom From Religion Foundation explains why Judge Alexander is wrong:
By refusing to provide secular ceremonies, Trigg County sends a message of religious endorsement. However, according to the Constitution, it is illegal to condition a government benefit on a religious test. By conditioning the receipt of a marriage license from Trigg County on an agreement to have a religious ceremony, the county is violating the rights of nonreligious couples to equal access to government benefits.
In addition, Andrew Seidel, attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, sent Judge Alexander a letter warning him about his egregious and unconstitutional actions. The following is an excerpt from Seidel’s letter:
This refusal violates the U.S. Constitution. As a government official, you have an obligation to remain neutral on religious matters.
As a government employee, you have a constitutional obligation to remain neutral on religious matters while acting in your official capacity. You have no right to impose your personal religious beliefs on people seeking to be married. Governments in this nation, including the Commonwealth of Kentucky, are secular. They do not have the power to impose religion on citizens. The bottom line is that by law, there must be a secular option for people seeking to get married. In Trigg County, you are that secular option. The default ceremony offered by your office should be secular and people wishing to add in religion should be able to do so upon request. Not the other way around and certainly not to the exclusion of a secular option.
Seidel is on point. Judge Alexander has a constitutional obligation to remain neutral on religious matters, and has no right to impose his religious beliefs on people seeking to be married.
Bottom line: Judge Alexander needs to do his job. If his sincerely held religious beliefs prevent him from doing his job, he needs to find another job.