Christie, Graham: No Mercy for Marriage Clerks

Photo credit: Jeff Belmonte via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Photo credit: Jeff Belmonte via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Listen, I agree that the convictions of an individual marriage clerk cannot bar a gay couple from access to a license to which the courts say they are legally entitled. But that is not the question really before us. The question is: are we going to live and let live? Or are we going to use gay marriage as a club to beat down as many dissenters as we can, on the grounds they are like racists.

Lindsey Graham and Chris Christie this weekend both demonstrated they have no mercy for the Kentucky marriage clerk who faces bankrupting fines and may lose her job. Nor has either indicated they would extend any mercy to the florists, the bakers, the photographers and others who are losing their livelihoods. It would be easy for the legislature to accommodate marriage clerks, by putting the duty to issue the license on the office, not the individual clerk, as they do in Utah. That way, everyone legally entitled to a civil license can get one, and people who really don’t believe gay unions are marriages do not need to lose their family’s livelihood or their pension.

Under current law, the Kentucky marriage clerk must issue the license, but the law is sometimes an ass and can be changed.  Shame on Christie and Graham for siding with those who wish to punish rather than accommodate conscientious objectors to this novel new civil marriage regime imposed by the Supreme Court.

Lindsey Graham on Hugh Hewitt:

HUGH HEWITT: I wanted to begin by asking you, I want to spend most of my time on defense.

LINDSEY GRAHAM: Okay.

HEWITT: But there is this story underway right now in Kentucky where a county clerk, Ms. Davis, is refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples despite the courts of federal and state telling her to do so. What’s your opinion on what she ought to do here, Senator?

GRAHAM: As a public official, comply with the law or resign.

HEWITT: And no middle ground, right? The rule of law is the rule of law?

GRAHAM: The rule of law is the rule of law. That’s what we are. We are a rule of law nation, and I appreciate her conviction. I support traditional marriage, but she’s accepted a job where she has to apply the law to everyone. And that’s her choice.

On Fox News Sunday, Chris Christie refused to defend not only the government marriage clerks but the small business owners being devastated by punishing government fines, hiding behind the idea he’s some kind of big tough guy law and order fellow for refusing to defend liberty:

CHRIS WALLACE: Should businesses be allowed to decide whether or not to serve gays or anyone else based on religious freedom?

CHRIS CHRISTIE:  Religious institutions should be able to decide how they conduct their religious activity.  The rest of the folks in the United States need to follow the law.

WALLACE:  Meaning, if I am a baker and I’m being —

CHRISTIE:  Listen, I’m not —

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE:  Chris, I’m not going to get to every example, a bakers, a candle stick maker.

WALLACE:  No, I’m asking —

CHRISTIE:  I’m not getting into every example. I’m someone in this country who believes in law and order.  I’m a former prosecutor.  I’m the only former prosecutor on that stage in California.  We need to enforce the law in this country in every respect, not just the laws we like, but all the laws.  This way we won’t have sanctuary cities in this country when I’m president of the United States, and we won’t have people getting high on marijuana in Colorado and Washington if the federal law says you shouldn’t.

Disgraceful. And unnecessary.  Getting to live and let live while the Left attempts to redefine Christian views on sex and marriage as the moral equivalent of racism is not going to be easy.

Leadership matters.  And this is not what it looks like.

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at American Principles in Action.