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07/18/2011

Hole-y logic

by Jeremy Hooper

New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser has posted an indignant column pushing the far-right meme claiming NY town clerks are being unfairly punished for having to apply the regular demands of their job to same-sex couples. But all one has to do in order to point out the deep flaws in Peyser's overall argument is simply note this one line:

"Laura Fotusky has joined couples in holy matrimony in the tiny upstate town of Barker for four years. Her run ends Thursday."
FULL PIECE: [NY Post]

See the obvious flaw? It comes in the phrase "holy matrimony." Here in America, many folks use phrases like that with little to no thought, interchangeably with "marriage," "walking down the aisle," "tying the knot," or "drinking too much vodka in Vegas and waking up with too much legal attachment to a stranger." But in this case, this particular phrase highlights the primary problem of the faux "religious freedom" argument that's being applied to this NY town clerk situation. Why? Well, because the duty of town clerks like Laura Fortusky has NEVER been to perform religious marriages. The issue here is *CIVIL* marriage licensing, with all couples who come to these clerks free to choose for themselves whether or not they care to attach religion to whatever kind of marriage ceremony that follows. These clerks, per the job for which they signed up, do provide the crucial step to matrimony in the state of New York. But civil, not holy.

A pro-gay person of faith has never been free to use his or her convictions to extend a license that is barred by the state. An anti-gay person of faith is not free to use his or her convictions to deny a license that is legal in the state. This is the job: To be performed in accordance with civil law, not personal prayer. Take it or leave it.

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