Fundamental Chicanery

Some religious groups are still trying to keep Washington from issuing marriage licenses.

Like a dog with a bone, religious groups such as the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Alliance Defending Freedom won't let it go. Fiercely opposed to same-sex marriage, they're trying their damnedest to throw up as many obstacles as possible to keep gay couples in Washington from being able to legally wed at the stroke of midnight on Thursday, December 6.

In their latest sour-grapes tactic, Alliance lawyers have dispatched legal-sounding memos to municipal and county clerks in Maine, Maryland, and Washington—the three states which just approved gay marriage by popular vote—advising them that their staff can refuse to issue a gay couple a license if they feel it violates their religion or conscience.

"No American should be forced to give up a constitutionally protected freedom, nor should any American be forced to give up his or her job to maintain that freedom," ADF Senior Counsel Austin R. Nimocks told Charisma News, a Christian news website. "Religious freedom is paramount to every American, including those issuing marriage licenses. They can perform their job without violating their conscience."

Whatever the case, it seems a fairly moot point here on the local front. The King County Recorders Office says no gay couple need fear any marriage-license clerks going rogue next week. Recorders Office spokesman Cameron Satterfield, in fact, told The Daily Weekly that "a lot of the staff are cheerfully volunteering to work overnight shifts" on December 6.

Satterfield said the office is undeterred by the Alliance's actions, and that none of the 20 staff members deputized to issue marriage licenses has raised any conscience-based objections."We expect people to do their job as defined in the collective-bargaining agreement, which is to issue licenses to all comers."

Speaking of all comers, Satterfield says that on December 6, his office will almost certainly shatter the record for the number of licenses issued in a single day in King County. The current record is 212, recorded on July 7, 2007 by couples who no doubt believed that 7/7/07 had to be a lucky day. Predicts Satterfield, "We're going to double and probably triple that number."

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