Just so you're not surprised when that one uncle you forgot to block on Facebook or Dr. Laura (is she still a thing?) starts ranting about it next week, we've found the next front on the War on Christians (TM): innocent civil servants not being allowed to be bigots at work. Actual quote from the story: "As gay marriage comes to Florida, Pasco County's clerk of court is among a growing number of clerks who are refusing to hold courthouse marriage ceremonies. . . .'The problem is we can't discriminate,' she said. 'So there are some people who would have wanted to transfer to another area, and we can't transfer everybody.'"

Now, a reasonable, ethically normal human being would just say, "Wow, what a bunch of assholes," and go back to eating his bowl of Lucky Charms marshmallows mixed with Fruity Pebbles (don't you dare judge me). But if you say that on your uncle's Facebook link or say it to Dr. Laura as she hollers on the street corner, you're likely to receive blowback. Here are a couple of the more intelligible responses to the story, with a few of the replies you can give.

That's not bigotry! That's just faith! Putting aside the fact that bigotry and faith aren't mutually exclusive (you know, like when you said that your kid's biology teacher was the real religious extremist because she "wouldn't teach the controversy"), I can understand your frustration—"bigotry" is a pretty pointed term, isn't it? Unfortunately, I can't think of a better word to describe a position whereby someone genuinely believes that one group of law-abiding, tax-paying citizens deserves fewer legal rights than another, especially when we're not talking about a theoretical right, but one that has already been bestowed by the government.

Those clerks have the right not to do something that goes against their beliefs. I don't have access to their contracts, and I'm not a constitutional lawyer, but I'm pretty sure that's not true in this case. If they were being asked to do something illegal, sure, but in this case, gay marriage is quite legal. Let's say the clerk strongly believed—as many people of various faiths do—that interfaith marriage is immoral. Or marriage between divorced people. Should they then have the right to ask straight couples about their religious affiliations before signing the license?

This is a slippery slope—next thing thing you know, they're going to be pulling preachers out of the pulpit. No, they're not. Putting aside the fact that many states included an unnecessary statement explicitly stating that there's an exemption for religions, again, how many Catholic priests have been arrested for not performing marriages between divorced people? None—because the state has made it abundantly clear that while a church is free to set its own rules regarding marriage (Fun fact: did you know that in the Anglican church, a man isn't allowed to marry a woman that's taller than him? It's true!), those rules have no bearing on state law, and vice versa.


The clerks are the real victims of discrimination here. Okay, let's think about this one a bit. What you're doing here is arguing for the oppressed majority, like Bill O'Reilly does in those videos you post every Christmas with headlines like, "Answer THIS, Atheists! Oh, Right, You CANT!!!" Is there such a thing as the oppressed majority? In some cases, yes. Those cases are generally called "colonialism." Being required to do your job is not colonialism. That's not to say it's not pleasant—if you genuinely think that homosexuality is evil, then I can imagine that it would be pretty stressful to have to sign a paper for a gay couple to get into the institution that you thought was yours, and yours alone. You're probably thinking about how they're going to go have a party with their friends, do the same kinds of dances you thought only you and your straight friends would do, lovingly smash cake in each other's face like you assumed only a man and a woman would do, then slip out near the end of the reception to go on their honeymoon like any straight couple would, ending up in a hotel room with a bottle of champagne, tuxedos strewn all over the floor, steam rising from a freshly-drawn bath, sweaty, passionate kissing, Mike saying, "Hold on a second, honey, let me grab some more lub—"

Ahem...sorry. As I was saying, oppressed majority. Being asked to do something you find unpleasant is, well, unpleasant, but it's not oppression. Just like having to deal with people who don't want a Christmas tree on city property. Or that one time someone posted a Richard Dawkins quote to your timeline. None of those things are oppressing you. They are, depending on your perspective, less-than-pleasant realities.

I just feel bad for all the normal couples that are going to be inconvenienced by this. Yes, because it must be really awful to not be able to take advantage of a legal right just because of someone else's ethical choices. I can't imagine what that must be like.