I read this article at The Friendly Atheist blog. It so outraged me I took the time to send the following email to Rep. Courser:
Mr. Courser, Have you actually thought about the ramifications of your proposed legislation? What about atheists? Mixed faith couples? Religious couples who simply don't want a religious "leader" involved? No one is asking that government officials responsible for issuing marriage licenses agree with the beliefs of people seeking to be married. If a government official is incapable of doing the job they were hired to do they should be encouraged to seek another job.
To my surprise I received a reply:
from: email@example.com to: firstname.lastname@example.org date: Mon, Jun 22, 2015 at 9:56 AM subject: Re: so you believe atheists shouldn't be able to marry? mailed-by: email.nationbuilder.com Dear Kurtis, Please read the bills. You will see that you will not be required to be married in any faith. In fact, the marriage does not have to be religious. There does not have to be a ceremony. The marriage can be recognized by an affidavit signed by both parties and given to the county clerk. The bills are taking the government out of the marriage process, not determining who should be married and how. There will be more freedom, not less. Respectfully, Karen Couture Legislative Aide Rep. Todd Courser
Hmmm, perhaps Mr. Mehta and other sources I’ve read about this legislation have drawn the wrong conclusion. So I did read each of the three bills: HB 4731, HB 4732, HB 4733. There is also an announcement at gophouse.org regarding the three bills. This is the reply I sent Ms. Couture and Mr. Courser:
Ms. Couture, I just finished reading all three bills (HB 4731, 4732, 4733). What you say is literally true in as much as the bills do not require the applicants to affirm a specific faith. However, the bills expressly require the applicant to have their "MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY CLERGY"(from page one of HB 4733 but similar language and provisions are in the other two bills). At the top of page two it says "AS USED IN THIS ACT, "CLERGY" MEANS A MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL, CLERIC, OR RELIGIOUS PRACTITIONER." The bills also explicitly modify the language to read "minister of the Gospel" rather than simply "minister" which makes it quite clear Mr. Courser favors Christian sects. These bills quite clearly make it more difficult for anyone not a member of a Christian, Muslim, or Jewish faith tradition to get married. The bills effectively make it impossible for an atheist to be married in your state unless they're willing to disregard their beliefs regarding religion and beg a "minister of the gospel" to grant them the boon of a certified marriage certificate. You should hang your head in shame for lying like that. Lying for Jebus is still lying and not acceptable in civilized society.
Nonetheless I find the bill odious. It clearly signals that Christian marriage is preferable to marriages not recognized by Christian sects. There is absolutely no legitimate secular (i.e., government interest) for doing so. Rep. Courser could simply omit section 1 and require everyone follow the requirements in section 1A and his goal of protecting the fragile religious sensibilities of state employees would still be met.