I recently ran across a Rachel Maddow story about North Carolina’s House of Representatives reviewing a proposal that I thought would open a conversation on the tug and pull between “religious freedom” and the law. The proposal would allow county magistrates to reject marriage licenses to people based on their religious beliefs. In the video, Maddow notes that under the new law…
…Magistrates could refuse to marry gay and lesbian couples, or couples who were remarrying after a divorce, or couples with one Buddhist and one Jew, couples where one person is white and one person is black- like the good ol’ days.
Check out the video here.
Even interracial couples, which the Supreme Court decided in 1967 were allowed to marry- making it illegal to reject people looking to marry on the basis of their races differing (the celebration of that decision is actually next week, ironically enough)- could possibly be turned away.
The debate on religious freedoms has been a hot topic as more and more states allow gay and lesbian marriages and more and more people and businesses try to find ways to avoid serving gay and lesbian people. And while I am open to discussing my views on other cases, focusing on this individual instance of the “religious freedom” argument being used, there is a key point I wanted to make- while those who follow a religion have a right to practice their beliefs freely in this country, working a government job is not a part of practicing those religious beliefs. Thus, what cannot happen is allowing those beliefs to override other people’s legal rights. Magistrates have an obligation to carry out the law- they are civil officers. Thus, their own personal beliefs, religious or otherwise, are not allow to trump their responsibility to treat each member of the public equally under the law. In NC right now, that means giving gay and lesbian couples marriage licenses.
So, I urge the NC House of Representative to follow this line of logic and uphold the veto of the proposal.
If you have any questions or would like to continue the conversation on religious freedoms feel free to reach out in the comments below. But for now…
That’s Where I Stand.