After the U.S. Supreme Court marriage-equality decision in 2015, a Tennessee trustee, Steve Konz, stopped presiding over any marriage ceremonies as an act of protest. He recently announced that he has begun marrying couples again. The problem? He refuses to officiate marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. It seems that he believes that, despite being in a government (and thus secular) position, his religious beliefs against marriage equality allow him to refuse to serve same-sex couples. But as Kim Davis learned, a government official cannot claim that his or her religion allows her to discriminate. Americans United sent Konz a letter yesterday warning him that his actions are both unconstitutional and discriminatory.
"A government employee may not remain on marriage duty while refusing to serve
same-sex couples," our letter said. "Government employees may not, under any circumstances, ask same-sex couples to visit another office, come back later or another day, or obtain service from someone else. Imposing such burdens on a same-sex couple demeans and stigmatizes the couple in a manner that violates the Constitution and other laws."
The letter asks Konz to either officiate ceremonies for all couples seeking marriage or stop officiating altogether. We hope that he takes our warning seriously. After all, no one deserves to be denied service because of someone else’s religious beliefs.
Has a government official refused service to you based on who you love? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.