An article from the Register Guard of Eugine, Oregon features a story about a county clerk who lost her job after refusing to sign documents allowing gays to live together legally.
Kathy Slater was an 11-year county clerk’s office employee when she was fired in 2008 for refusing to accept domestic partnership declarations and issue certificates of registered domestic partnership to applicants.
The case unfolded as the county was preparing clerks to begin registering such partners under the Oregon Family Fairness Act passed by the 2007 state Legislature. Domestic partnership confers some of the same legal recognition and rights as marriages of couples who register.
Slater had asked to be exempted from the new duty, based on the fact that she was a “Christian” with the “bona fide and sincerely held religious belief that domestic partnerships are a sin,”
The County reports that over the course of two years, 26 of these documents were filed and they only take 10 minutes fill out. The article also states that of the five people left working in that department, only two worked on these things. It’s not clear if the other three would have cited religious grounds as their reasons for not processing them but it was Slater’s opinion that she should have been able to pass on the papers for that reason and not have it be that big a deal. It’s not like they’d never get processed. She’d just never have to be the one to do it. The judge agreed with her.
“So long as the registration is processed in a timely fashion, the registrants have suffered no injury,” Coffin wrote. “There is no reason to even inform them of Ms. Slater’s religious views or the county’s accommodation of those beliefs.”
The county is paying her a settlement of $145,000 to cover lost wages and “allegedly violating her rights and causing her emotional distress and pain.” They’re also being made to rewrite her employment record so it states she was made redundant, not fired because of a desire to avoid dealing with homosexuals, or whatever wording might have been there before.
Her lawyer got some tips from the Alliance Defense Fund, a group always on the lookout for perceived persecution cases and issues where “family values” (as defined by “proper” Christians) come under fire. Jim Campbell is an attorney with the group.
“Ms. Slater’s case was not an isolated incident,” he said. A dozen Massachusetts justices of the peace resigned after the governor told them they had an obligation to perform same-sex marriages, he said, and adoption workers lost their jobs when Catholic charities there shut down their programs because they refused to place adoptive children with same-sex couples.
May 17th marks the day in Massachusetts where JPs will have to comply with the new state law. If their religion matters more than doing their job, then yes, they should go and find new jobs. They can bitch if they want, but the times they are a changin’.
Catholic adoption agencies have been fighting for years to avoid giving kids to same sex couples. The fact that they would shut down to avoid it shows they don’t really care much about making sure all kids get a good home life. The continued assumption that two homosexuals can’t provide that is complete and utter bullshit. Illinois just shot down a bill that would have let religious agencies deny same-sex couples the right to adopt or foster. And that state’s new civil union law goes into effect on June 1st.
This is why it’s so important to keep religion out of government and law. There’s no decent reason to keep denying rights to same-sex couples or demand they be childless. The only reasons that come up are tied to biblical verses, not case studies or history. They don’t have a logical leg to stand on. All they have are their religious ideologies and beliefs about sin and perceived morality. Those are not reasons to keep people from being married or keep kids from having families. It’s all so ridiculous and sad.
Edit April 18/11 – fixed a blockquote problem. Memo to self: check work more carefully.