Magazine article Church & State

Mont. Officials Insist Clerks Don't Have to Serve Same-Sex Couples

Magazine article Church & State

Mont. Officials Insist Clerks Don't Have to Serve Same-Sex Couples

Article excerpt

Officials in a Montana county are insisting that government clerks don't have to serve same-sex couples if it offends their religious beliefs, setting the stage for a possible legal showdown.

In a Dec. 5 letter, the Yellowstone County Commission informed Yellowstone County Clerk of Court Kristie Boelter that she is legally required to exempt clerks from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples if they object on religious grounds; if she does not, she may be forced to pay for her own defense in the event of a lawsuit, the commission said.

"You claim a duty under oath to uphold the law," the letter said. "That oath does not entitle you as an elected official and supervisor of your employees to personally select the laws to follow. This practice creates a risk of unnecessary liability to this county and its taxpayers. We ask that you please rethink your position on this matter and act accordingly. "

The letter added that if the county is sued, "Yellowstone County will take the position that the lawsuit was a direct result of you acting outside the scope of your employment."

When asked to explain why this harsh position was taken by the county, Chairman Jim Reno said it was necessary.

"We're putting her on notice," Reno said, according to the Billings Gazette. "It (the letter) is strongly worded because it needs to be."

This issue became prominent after same-sex marriage was legalized in Montana following federal court rulings. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.