Thursday, November 12, 2015

Americans Believe That Clerks Must Issue License

Linda Massey opposes gay marriage.  But she was incensed last bummer to see that Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk, was refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

"If the government says you have to give out these marriage licenses, and you get paid to do it, you do it/" says the 64-year-old retiree from Lewiston, Michigan. "That woman", she said of Davis, "should be out of a job."

Americans like Massey are at the heart of a shift in public opinion, an AP-GfK poll has found.  For the first time, most Americans expect government officials to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even over religious objections.

It's partly a matter of expecting public servants to do their jobs.  But more broadly, the issue touches on a familiar dispute over which constitutional value trumps which:  religious freedom, or equality under the law?

The question in recent months has entangled leaders with political sway, among them Pope Francis and the 2016 presidential contenders.  But its not a new conflict for a nation that has long wrestled with the separation of church and state.

Where Davis's answer was the First Amendment's protection of religious freedom- and she severed jail time to back it up- a majority of respondents don't buy the argument when it comes to public officials issuing marriage licenses.  That's a shift since an AP=Gfk survey in July, when Americans were about evenly split.  Then, 49 percent said officials with religious objections should be exempt from issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples and 47 percent said they should be required to issue them.

Source:  U.S. News & World Report