Interestingly, two GOP governors tried to do the right thing (in North Carolina, the legislature overrode a veto by Gov. Pat McCrory).
The Cato Institute’s David Boaz shared this comment on his Facebook page:
Well, I’m sorry to say that the North Carolina House has NOT recognized its constitutional obligation to offer equal justice to all citizens. Instead it has joined the Senate in overriding the governor’s veto of a bill exempting magistrates (the only civil officers authorized to perform marriages) from performing same-sex marriages if they have a religious objection.
As I said previously, this seems clearly wrong. Private citizens — florists, photographers, caterers — should not be forced to participate in ceremonies that offend them. Marrying couples can find another florist or baker who wants their business. But the government represents all citizens. Officers of the court must serve all citizens. By the way, the mission statement of the NC Magistrates Association is “The mission of the Magistrate is to protect and preserve the rights and liberties of all of the people, as guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States and North Carolina, by providing a fair, independent and accessible forum [for] the just, timely and economical resolution of their legal affairs.” Under the new law they will insert “except the gay ones” after “all of the people.”
I made a similar point in an April post:
There is a key difference between private, self-employed citizens who don’t want to provide creative services to same-sex weddings, and servants of the state.
While some of my friends on the left seem to think everyone is essentially (or should be) treated as a servant of the state, that’s actually not the American way, and shouldn’t be.
But, on the other hand, if government officials can’t perform their duty to treat all citizens equally, citing their own religious convictions, then they should step aside. Separation of church and state is also the American way.