Like a dog with a bone, religious groups such as the Scottsdale-based Alliance Defending Freedom, won't let it go. They are fiercely opposed to same-sex marriage, and they're trying their damnedest to throw up as many obstacles as possible for gay couples in Washington able to legally wed at the stroke of midnight December 6.
In its latest sour-grapes tactic, Alliance lawyers have dispatched legal-sounding memos to municipal and county clerks in Maine, Maryland and Washington -- the three states which have approved gay marriage by popular vote -- advising them that their staff can refuse to issue a gay couple a license if they feel it violates their religion or conscience.
"No American should be forced to give up a constitutionally protected freedom, nor should any American be forced to give up his or her job to maintain that freedom," ADF Senior Counsel Austin R. Nimocks, told Charisma News, a Christian news Web site. "Religious freedom is paramount to every American, including those issuing marriage licenses. They can perform their job without violating their conscience."
Whatever the case, it seems a fairly moot point here on the local front. The King County Recorders Office says no gay couple need fear any marriage license clerks going rogue next month.
Recorders Office spokesman Cameron Satterfield, in fact, told The Daily Weekly that "a lot of the staff are cheerfully volunteering to work over-night shifts" on Dec. 6.
Satterfield said the office is undeterred by the Alliance's actions and that none of the 20 staff members who are deputized to issue marriage licenses have raised any conscience-based objections.
"We expect people to do their job as defined in the collective bargaining agreement, which is to issue licenses to all comers."
Speaking of all comers, Satterfield says his office on Dec. 6 will almost certainly shatter the record for the number of licenses issued in a single day in King County.
The current record is 212 licenses, recorded on July 7, 2007, by couples no doubt believing that 7-7-7 had to be a lucky day.
Predicts Satterfied, "We're going to double and probably triple that number."