The implications of the imposition of same-sex unions on Virginia and the rest of the nation continue to reverberate. There's little doubt that, as individuals, churches, ministries and businesses are faced with choosing between their faith principles regarding human sexuality and operating in the public square, the sex-obsessed secular left will do all it can to use the power of government to impose its morality on the rest of us. Already, one group of Virginians faces that dilemma - Clerks of the Court. And guess which side our notorious Attorney General has chosen?
As you know, clerks' offices issue marriage licenses. Once same-sex unions became "legal," clerks whose faith teaches marriage between a man and a woman seemingly were forced to issue licenses in those cases.
But Virginia law actually protects clerks from being forced by the government to violate their consciences. Our Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed in 2007 and signed into law by then Governor Tim Kaine, requires that "No government entity shall substantially burden a person's free exercise of religion" unless it is "essential to further a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means available."
According to a memo from our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom, a solution to the dilemma faced by some clerks exists by law, "A clerk thus should appoint a deputy clerk with full authority to perform all acts necessary to issue, administer, or process the marriage licenses of same-sex couples should a conflict of conscience arise. And if no deputy clerk is available, the clerk should ask a judge of the circuit court. This should resolve the situation and facilitate the interests of all parties." This means that the government can accomplish the task (issue a license) without violating the conscience of a clerk.
Earlier this month, The Family Foundation forwarded the ADF memo to members of the Virginia Conservative Caucus, asking them to forward it to their Clerk of the Courts offices, many of whom did so.
Unfortunately, Attorney General Mark Herring is once again choosing to ignore established Virginia law to further a political agenda. His office has stated, "A clerk's powers are ministerial, not discretionary, so the court's order means a clerk must issue a license to a couple who is qualified to receive one."
We already know at least one example of a clerk's office that has followed ADF's advice and protected one deputy clerk's conscience while fulfilling the legal obligation to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. One would think that such a balance would be acceptable, but you and I know that the sex-obsessed secular left is never going to accommodate or tolerate any opinion other than its own.
We are currently informing legislative leaders of the Attorney General's advice to Clerks and asking that they take action in defense of clerks across Virginia who have a right, according to the words of Thomas Jefferson in our state Constitution, to "be free to profess and by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of religion, and the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities."
But then again, perhaps Mark Herring has "evolved" past the words of Jefferson?