Officials Declining To Issue Gay Marriage Licenses Is Not The Same Thing As Segregation


USA. North Carolina. 1950.

This letter to the editor by Eric Burin has appeared in a few of the state’s newspapers, and I’ve heard others making a similar argument as well.

Burin argues that the decision by county records here in North Dakota – one in Stark County (Dickinson) and one in Walsh County (Grafton) – to authorize someone other than themselves to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples because of their personal religious objections is the same thing as racial segregation.

“In truth, this policy is highly problematic because it essentially revives the infamous ‘separate but equal’ doctrine, which the Supreme Court overturned in Brown v. Board of Education (1954),” Burin writes. “In this case, the court ruled that systematically segregating black students from their white peers was intrinsically demeaning and harmful.”

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]This is a nonsensical comparison, and a rank bit of hyperbole.[/mks_pullquote]

This is a nonsensical comparison, and a rank bit of hyperbole.

The law specifically allows for county officials to authorize people other than the recorder to issue marriage licenses and most do because, hey, sometimes people get sick or go on vacation and that shouldn’t hold up the process of people getting a marriage license. That this authority might also be used to accommodate somebody’s strongly-held religious convictions about marriage is irrelevant.

Because what’s the difference between waiting an extra day to get a marriage license, or walking to a different desk or office to get that license, because somebody is on vacation as opposed to being philosophically opposed to gay marriage?

I think we’d get a good laugh out of someone invokingĀ Brown vs. Board of Education because they had to wait a day to get their license because the recorder was in Hawaii, so why is it any different because the recorder might be, say, a Muslim who disapproves of such unions?

Nobody is arguing that gays have to go to a different courthouse or use a different entrance or something to the building. They will be issued the same license, using the same process, as everybody else.

Comparing this situation to blacks and whites being forced to attend separate schools (that often weren’t very equal) is ridiculous to the point of absurdity. It belittles an ugly chapter in our history which deserves better than to be shoehorned into modern narratives to score cheap political points.

The right to marriage does not necessarily come with the right to force somebody else to serve you unwillingly.