A county commissioner in South Dakota is facing a bit of criticism for denigrating marriage equality on an official Facebook page, the Rapid City Journal reports:
Meade County Commissioner Alan Aker has faced an outpouring of anger and criticism, even sparking a petition to remove him from office, after he used his county commissioner Facebook account to predict dire consequences in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision requiring states to allow same-sex couples to marry.
The court’s 5-4 decision was announced on Friday, June 26; late that morning, Aker’s Facebook post included his prediction that states will begin to eliminate civil marriage.
“You haven’t gained marriage ‘equality,'” he wrote, “I predict you have ended marriage as a civil institution. One by one, states will remove it from statutes. It will be an exclusively religious institution.
“For awhile, some of our churches will refuse to perform same-sex marriages, and get away with it. Since liberals never stop, they’ll use courts to strip these churches of their tax-exempt statuses. These churches will be blessed and will thrive anyway.”
Attorney General Marty Jackley has issued an opinion saying that county officials could refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if it violated their religious beliefs. That has earned him significant criticism from the ALCU, the Argus Leader reports:
The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota is taking the state’s Attorney General to task for comments he made about county officials and same-sex marriage last week.
County officials with religious objections to same-sex marriage can decline to issue licenses to same-sex couples, Attorney General Marty Jackley said, though another county official would be obliged to issue the license.
If no other employee were available, he said, an official from another county could handle licensing.
The ACLU sent a letter to Jackley on Wednesday saying what he called a “common sense solution” to balancing religious liberty with marriage rights flies in the face of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell vs. Hodges.
The ACLU argued that Jackley’s plan would force same-sex couples to drive to a separate county to get a license, but Jackley was undeterred, according to KDLT:
But Jackley’s comments worry ACLU and they sent him a letter addressing their concerns.
“The reality would be that you’d be forcing same-sex couples to drive to a separate county to obtain services that heterosexual couples can access at home, and that’s just not equal treatment,” said Skarin.
But after reading the letter, Jackley says he’s disappointed that the group wants to place certain constitutional rights ahead of others.
Jackley said, “It is not my intent to ignore established law and sue a county or arrest a county employee for exercising the well-established constitutional right to the freedom of religion.”
Rather than accepting the ACLU’s position, Jackley supports what he calls commonsense solutions, protecting everyone’s constitutional rights in South Dakota.
Rapid City Journal columnist John Tsitrian had some strong words for Jackley:
KELO-TV reported July 2 that Jackley said (quoting the report) that “if a county employee in S.D. has religious objections to gay marriage they can have another employee issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple … if someone else was not available another county or the state could issue the license.”
If quoted accurately, Jackley’s position sounds like the makings of anarchy to me. County employees are agents of their jurisdictions and refusing to do their jobs because of personal convictions could lead to all kinds of administrative mayhem. Talk about slippery slopes. Is this how Jackley conceives of his avowed responsibility to “support the Constitution of the United States? Come on.
The state of South Dakota expects same-sex married folks to participate in civil society with all the responsibilities that go with it. Considering that, where do agents of the state or any of its counties get off denying them the proscribed right to call themselves married? Seems like Jackley should realize that if we expect these same-sex married folks to bear the same burden of responsibilities as everyone else that we should give them the same status as other married couples, not regard them as a separate class of citizens. Fair’s fair, and Jackley’s notion that government employees should be able to segregate in any way, shape or form the very citizens they treat equally in every other respect is full of baloney.
A South Dakota lawmaker who led the charge for a bill in 2014 that would grant religious people a right to discriminate against LGBT people has announced his resignation, the Argus Leader reports:
A conservative lawmaker who rattled Democrats and Republicans alike resigned his House seat and is leaving South Dakota to pursue a PhD at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.
Steve Hickey, a Sioux Falls Republican, is also resigning as senior pastor from the Church at the Gate, a church he founded 20 years ago. He notified his congregation on Sunday.
Democrats were dismayed by his election to the House in 2010. Hickey was an outspoken opponent of abortion, gay marriage and other causes championed by social conservatives.
One North Dakota County has exempted a government employee from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Stark County Board of Commissioners voted last week to exempt county recorder Kathy Schwab from performing her duties should a same-sex couples request a marriage license, the Dickinson Press reports:
The Stark County commissioners voted at their regular meeting Tuesday to authorize the county’s deputy recorder to issue marriage licenses after it was revealed that the county recorder felt uncomfortable granting them to same-sex couples.
The discussion topic was brought up by Stark County State’s Attorney Tom Henning, who said recorder Kathy Schwab had recently made the request to share the responsibility with someone else for such matters.
“Ms. Schwab has personal, deep-seated beliefs that she says really interfere with her ability to do that kind of thing,” Henning said. “She’s asking that the board exercises authority to appoint a substitute official in instances of applications for marriage licenses for same-sex marriages.”
Schwab declined to comment, insisting that all questions be forwarded to Henning.
The Fargo Forum has been tracking same-sex marriage across the state, and so far there have been a few in the state’s larger counties. The Forum speculates that many couples have already marriage in states like Minnesota and Iowa.
Republican Rep. Steve King, who represents the western part of the state, want to bring a resolution bashing the U.S. Supreme Court to the House floor, the Washington Post reports:
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) says he is working on introducing a nonbinding resolution of disapproval against the high court’s ruling.
“We should bring it to the floor and have a debate and let people register their positions,” he said in an interview Monday afternoon.
The vote might also be a way to get the growing number of Republican presidential candidates to weigh in on the matter. King says that, so far, he has heard “a good number of tepid responses from our presidential candidates on this.”
“I think it’s important to let the public know where they stand,” he said.
Gov. Scott Walker’s position on same-sex marriage has caused quite a bit of controversy ahead of his announcement that he’s running for president this week. His family doesn’t agree with his position, the Washington Post reports:
A particularly tough day for the family came a little more than a week ago, when the Supreme Court issued its ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. Scott Walker, a favorite of Republican conservatives and the son of a Baptist preacher, issued a statement calling it a “grave mistake” and supporting a constitutional amendment to allow states to determine who can marry.
In the political world, Walker drew immediate scrutiny for being particularly strident. In their house, Tonette Walker heard immediately about her husband’s response from the couple’s two sons, Matt and Alex, who are taking time off from college to help their father’s campaign. She told them to talk directly to him.
“That was a hard one,” Tonette said, pausing and choosing her words carefully. “Our sons were disappointed. . . . I was torn. I have children who are very passionate [in favor of same-sex marriage], and Scott was on his side very passionate.”
“It’s hard for me because I have a cousin who I love dearly — she is like a sister to me — who is married to a woman, her partner of 18 years,” she said.
She said her son Alex was her cousin’s best man at their wedding last year.
The couple, Shelli Marquardt and Cathy Priem, have vacationed and hosted parties with the Walkers, according to friends.
The day after the Supreme Court ruling, Tonette flew with her husband to Colorado, where he addressed a group of 4,000 conservatives and met with donors. It was widely noted that, despite a perfectly receptive audience, Walker did not repeat his sharp criticism of the Supreme Court decision.
Instead, Walker spoke more vaguely and was quoted as saying, “We should respect the opinions of others in America. But that in return means that they not only respect our opinions, they respect what is written in the Constitution.”
In addition to family, friends of Walker’s family dispute his anti-gay stance, according to the Daily Mail:
This is Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, pictured at the wedding reception of one of the first gay couples to marry in his state – who told Daily Mail Online today that they do not believe the presidential hopeful is against same-sex marriage.
He smiled with the newlyweds at their reception, which came weeks after a judge struck down an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman – a move the governor vowed to overturn.
Speaking from their home in Hartland, Wisconsin, Ms Priem told Daily Mail Online today: ‘I don’t think that he is against same-sex marriage.’
Ms Marquardt, 48, said: ‘He has been nothing but supportive of our relationship and wanted us to have love in our lives. He attended our reception last August 9. He is a faithful person who tries to love everyone and not to judge.’
Salon reports that Walker may have problems raising money from conservative donors over this position on same-sex marriage:
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is preparing to become the 15th Republican candidate for president with an official announcement reportedly coming next week, but the conservative hero has run into a few hiccups has he attempts to expand his appeal nationally while maintaining his conservative bonafides. Following last month’s Supreme Court ruling for nationwide marriage equality, Walker backed a constitutional amendment allowing states to restrict marriage to straights only — a position so extreme that it’s reportedly costing his campaign lots of cash as conservative megadonors withhold support.
Northeast Wisconsin hosted a “Pride Prom” last week, WFRV reports:
A prom was held Friday night for teens and young adults who identify as being part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The event called “Pride Prom” drew in people from all across Northeast Wisconsin.
Inside the Marq in De Pere, a party in a place where everyone gathered can just be themselves.
“This is really about us being ourselves,” said a high school student from Menasha.
This is Pride Prom, an annual gathering put on by the LGBT Partnership, a leadership development and support group program of Goodwill North Central Wisconsin.
“We have this prom so youth can be among other people who identify as themselves and know this is a safe place,” said Deanna Tappy, LGBT Partnership program leader.