Thursday, June 5, 2014

Marriage discrimination

An act of discrimination recently occurred in a state just next door to my Maryland. In Virginia, a court official refused to marry a couple. Why? Was it racism? Nope...

Tamar Courtney and Morgan Strong were ready to get married after six years together. Their hope was to have a friend officiate, but when that fell through they turned to court appointed officiants that were recommended by a Franklin County judge.

When they contacted the first official (Bud Roth) he informed him that he would not marry them at the courthouse, but at his church instead. To me, this should have raised plenty of red flags. But they begrudgingly agreed and then agreed on cost, a date, and time. Then Roth asked Courtney and Strong their religion. This was the point they told Roth that they were atheist and agnostic.

That's when Roth told them he wouldn't marry them because they, and I quote...
"didn’t know where God was"
What is that even supposed to mean? Do Christians get a GPS (God Positioning Satellite) tracker that tells then when the almighty is dinning at their local Arby's or taking in a movie or pumping iron at the gym?

When pressed on why he would not marry them, Roth said that it was...
"Because she’s agnostic and you’re an atheist. I will not marry you. You don’t believe in God.”
How is that remotely acceptable? If you are going to be a court appointed officiant, I don't think such discrimination should be allowed. If they walked up to a random church and asked to be married, that would be one thing. But a court officiant is another thing entirely. Can you imagine the outrage if Roth had instead  refused to marry a couple due to 'not being white' instead of 'not believing in God'? Why is it that it still seems perfectly acceptable for non-believers to be slighted so?

Luckily there is a happy ending to this one. The couple contacted another officiant, and are due to be married by the end of the month. But one thing is clear. Roth either needs to step away from performing ceremonies for those that come to the courthouse to be married, or be clear from the off that he only performs religious ceremonies... Something you don't expect when the intention is a secular justice of the peace ceremony.

-Brain Hulk

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