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Susan Stabile

Steve: If the person to whom the task is delegated is available to the same extent as the clerk, I agree with you. What was unclear to me from the original NYT article (which spoke of having to make an appointment with the deputy) I read on this was whether this is the case. That is, if a heterosexual couple could walk in any time the office is open and have the Clerk sign the certificate but a same-sex couple had to make an appointment that might require them to wait a couple of weeks, that seems to me a problem. I don't know factually that this is the case, but I do think it matters how it works out in practice.

Steve Shiffrin

Thanks for commenting. I agree that a differential burden weakens the free exercise claim. I do not think any differential burden should be sufficient to override a free exercise claim. And I am not sure a two week discrepancy would be enough for me, but it might be.


The whole conservative position makes no sense to me. Consider this thought experiment:

The State sets up two marriage tracks: Straight and Gay, both conferring identical rights. Only the former is considered biblical by many. So they don't consider the others married at all.

OK, so what? Who cares what the christianists think of other peoples' relationships? Most evangelicals do not consider Mormons to be christian, and many don't consider Roman Catholics to be christian either. So what?

If one of these bigots is in the Army and filling out a form for what type of headstone to put on the soldier's grave, will he refuse to put in "Christian" at a Mormon's insistence or at a Roman Catholic's insistence? Or even a Jew's insistence?

This is all a tempest in a teapot. The real conflict is over the 1000+ special privileges accorded married folks in taxes, inheritance, visitation, immigration and other areas--privileges historically denied to gay couples and still denied to singles and cohabiting straights.

I say: let's rid ourselves of the right of the government to use not only the distinctions, but the very words referring to male/female, gay/straight and single/married from every statute in the country, just as no statute now maintains white/black/brown/red distinctions or the words denoting race of a person.

That would solve all these problems in one swell foop, putting myriad judges, administrators and lawyers out of work but letting the christianist priests go on promoting their pro-marriage and pronatalist bigotry.


Only a gay man could think ridding the government of the right to use the distinctions male/female, gay/straight, single/married. would "solve all these problems."

It is not the government that discriminates, but Nature. Women get pregnant. Pregnancy puts a person in a genuinely unique position of vulnerability, physically, socially and financially. Nothing that happens to men is even remotely comparable to pregnancy. Women are and always have been a solid majority of the poor and the destitute because they get pregnant.

Marriage is not a especially good vehicle for alleviating the disadvantages of pregnancy, but it's all there is. Those 1000+ "special privileges" are millions of women's lifeline, the tiny shred of a remnant of a safety net that keeps their lives bearable. That's what "marriage" is to straight women.

For gay men, "marriage" is a chance to preen in front of cameras and get their pictures in the newspaper of record wearing wedding gowns. Just before they run off and whine and snivel about what a "vulnerable minority" they are.



A man has conceived and delivered in very recent history. Furthermore, laws could easily cover all the events of pregnancy without ever mentioning the sex, age, race, marital status, height or weight of the person involved.

Get it?

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