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A tough call.....

Posted by jasdip (My Page) on
Wed, Dec 5, 12 at 8:56

A minister who performed civil marriages at City Hall for the past 15 years lost her job because of her religious beliefs.

The rules of her church didn't believe in same-sex marriage, so the minister, would arrange another one to fill in her place to perform the ceremonies. She has done this for several years.

This has come under fire in recent months, and the city decided that she can no longer perform marriages at city hall.
She lost her job because of religious beliefs.

I don't see a problem, that she was able to bring someone else in to perform the ceremony. She wasn't vocal or angry against the couples, she just couldn't perform them, in her heart, because of her beliefs.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: A tough call.....

That's reverse discrimination as far as I'm concerned. Kind of like it's my way or the highway. Where does it stop?

I think she was being fair and accomodating to all people, without going against her beliefs.

Are we not allowed to have our own beliefs now? It's getting to that point fast.


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RE: A tough call.....

Hmm, that is a tough call. However, she was hired to perform all marriage ceremonies, not just some marriage ceremonies. Other people cannot say, well I don't believe in that so I am sending in someone else to do my job. Also, because the ceremonies are being performed in a government office (City Hall), it is especially bothersome. Employees of government agencies need to leave their prejudices (not so sure that is the best word, bykwim) at home.

Maybe a judge should be performing all the ceremonies, not a religious person. I'm sure people of all religions show up there.


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RE: A tough call.....

Witnessing the signing of a civil contract(marriage contract license) between two persons has no religious impact.

The clerk is wrong, and should learn to either not take jobs that are against her personal beliefs or feelings, or to leave her personal beliefs at the door to her workplace.


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RE: A tough call.....

Are we not allowed to have our own beliefs now?
You "believe" what you believe,,,, no one can take that from you. What they did was take the job away from her, because she apparently could not fulfill the essential part of it... that being: "to perform the marriage ceremony for any & all who legally request it." She is still able to hold to her & her churches *beliefs*. She is still quite able to decide not to marry specific petitioners IN her CHURCH.

As it, city hall, is a gov't entity they apparently didn't want to deal with being associated with someone (the minister) who puts her beliefs before what is legal in their city/state. That brings legal ramifications onto the city. I think the city made the right call.

Just food for thought question: How would you respond if the minister held the belief that a black should not marry a white & she got a substitute for those couples' marriage ceremonies?


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RE: A tough call.....

I think she was fired because she could not accomplish all the parts of her job,
for whatever reason dictated her conduct, religious or otherwise.
It was not professional of her, since she was not representing her church when she did those civil ceremonies.

For me it's not a tough call, it's pretty clear cut.


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RE: A tough call.....

I don't see it as any different than a judge recusing themselves from a case due to a specific interest that conflicts. But that's my law mind working. She wasn't wrong, they are.


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RE: A tough call.....

I don't understand clergy doing marriages at city hall either. I thought someone else did it. She couldn't fulfill the requirements of the job.


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RE: A tough call.....

I'm having a hard time figuring out why at the start a minister was at city hall performing this service. I thought couples go to city hall when they don't want a minister (or any other religious part) and want to get it done quickly. Is it a very religious community? Were there any religious aspects to how she did them in the past?

Moving to the current situation, how do her actions -- not to perform this service for the same-sex couple -- make that couple feel? She is passing judgment on a lifestyle that her city or state has said is neither illegal nor wrong in any shape in the eyes of the law. She didn't have to speak vocally against the couple, her actions spoke just as loud. I think if she had any problems with marrying same-sex couples, she should have stopped doing the job the first time the situation arose. Marry all, or marry none.


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RE: A tough call.....

I think the city was right. An individual can believe whatever they want, but if they can't complete their job as described, they should be dismissed. Finding a replacement isn't the same.

If she was getting heat for it, then it was becoming obvious to other people, and that's a problem. People should not be made to feel uncomfortable or unworthy of having a ceremony that is perfectly legal under the law, especially in a setting that is supposed to be free of religious influence.

I do think it's different from a judge, who is responsible for having an unbiased opinion as both sides are presented. If there's a matter that results in a conflict of interest that would result in an unfair bias against one party regardless of evidence, it's responsible to remove oneself from the case. In this case, the minister's job is clear-cut: perform marriage ceremonies. It doesn't require any sort of judgement or unbiased opinion.

If I refused to work with clients of a certain race or religion, you can bet I'd be fired in a minute, even if I found someone else to work with them. People have the right to believe whatever they want, but if it interferes with job performance, then it's only fair to expect dismissal.


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RE: A tough call.....

That is a tough call, but if this is part of her job description, she should do it, or look for another job. Relatives of mine belong to the 7th Day Adventist Church who do go to church on Saturday (Sabbath), but they perform their duties as medical staff, emergency road work, medics during a war time situation, and yes even have worship services for those who do have a different life style, even though they don't believe it.


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RE: A tough call.....

This reminds me of pharmacists who refuse to provide the morning after pill because of personal/religous belief. Even if they refer the person to another pharmacist, they are letting personal belief interfere with their job.


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RE: A tough call.....

Interesting viewpoint, Rob333I don't see it as any different than a judge recusing themselves from a case due to a specific interest that conflicts. But that's my law mind working. She wasn't wrong, they are.

As I see it a judge is called upon to be very unbiased with his/her opinions & only look @ the *facts* presented & apply laws as applicable to the case. They recuse themselves when there is a "potential" conflict of interest, such as being related to someone involved in the case. The judge might be quite capable of rendering an unbiased verdict, but they eliminate the possible perceived bias by recusing. The exact same case with different players doesn't create a problem for the judge, i.e. no need for recusing.

In the case of the minister, the bias is a *fact*. She refuses to marry certain people, therefore she is not performing an element of her job description.

The ability to recuse is essential for a judge, not so for this minister.

That's my logical mind working.


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RE: A tough call.....

Pammy, we were married in a courthouse by a judge. Not because we didn't want any religion in it, but because we were between semesters at college and didn't have time for a church wedding. No, I wasn't pregnant. LOL.

The judge used the traditional vows with God included. I wouldn't have married there if he hadn't.

I'm wondering if judges no longer marry people, or if they do, have they changed the vows people say?


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RE: A tough call.....

So why is not essential for "ordinary" people bee?


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RE: A tough call.....

I don't think she should have been fired for that. That's discrimination just as much as they are claiming that she is discriminating.


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RE: A tough call.....

If she chooses not to do her job, then she should be fired....I wonder if she was paying the other person to preform the ceremonies..


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RE: A tough call.....

I wonder if this is a part-time minister and a full time city employee - or vice/versa.

Or just a self-appointed or elected minister of a non-traditional congregation?


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RE: A tough call.....

15 years ago, there were no civil ceremonies offered at this particular city. She created the position and does civil ceremonies Friday afternoons.

Brown confided she has people very dear to her who are gay. Regardless, performing ceremonies for same-sex couples is not an option for her.

"My church won't allow me to," she said. "I haven't had to make a decision."


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RE: A tough call.....

If she wasn't fulfilling all of her duties, she should have been fired.


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RE: A tough call.....

That's even worse. She created a civil ceremony service position but she will only offer it for people her religion approves of? I know she found substitutes but still...


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RE: A tough call.....

It's my understanding, and I could be wrong, that she was doing the job fully, then when same-sex marriages became legal, that is when she had to pass those ceremonies onto another minister.


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RE: A tough call.....

She was not suitable for the job anymore. Should have been replaced. JMHO!


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RE: A tough call.....

Usually when folks are married at city hall, it's a justice of the peace, etc. who does the job. I was interested that a minister did it there.

In our area, sometimes people who were in active ministry perform marriages, sometimes in a small church in a park, or in private home, garden, etc. Usually they have to get on a special non-religious list, as a number of denominations only include people who are in active ministry with them.

I'd have had some negative feelings about marrying a same-gender couple, a few years ago, but my views have changed somewhat in the intervening years.

Getting mellow? Or just losing it?

On the other hand ... many people of skill, training and empathy - doctor, nurse, lawyer, teacher, judge, etc. are not required to restrict their operations entirely to the instructions contained in a 2000-year-old rule book. They didn't have bus drivers, fly-boys, train engineers, elctricians, etc. back then ... but the house builders and plumbers followed somehat different rules, too, I imagine ... and the road builders surely did (said he, without being either hoarse, or buggy!)!

ole joyful


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RE: A tough call.....

I admire her for standing by her principles. Good for her!
Surely a gay couple wouldn't want someone who disapproved of their relationship to marry them in the first place.


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RE: A tough call.....

She was performing civil marriages, which the law in her area allows. She would have the right to refuse to perform a religious marriage if it went against her religious beliefs, but she doesn't have the right to refuse to uphold the law when performing duties for the government.


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RE: A tough call.....

"A minister who performed civil marriages at City Hall for the past 15 years lost her job because of her religious beliefs."

Jasdip, my friend, you have a bright future ahead of you writing for the Enquirer! ;)

Sounds to me like that's what she wants the world to believe. I'm assuming she lost her city job, not her minister job? I suspect she lost her job because she wasn't doing what she represented she would do.

Let's see, some religions don't allow females to be ministers/priests, etc. If the government employee said "no women allowed" for that job, would anyone applaud them for standing up for their beliefs?

Far different than the analogy of a judge as already pointed out. Just like a City Attorney can have a conflict of interest in selling legal advice so they would step down. In my city, BTW, when the City Attorney steps down s/he must pay for the legal fees of the substitute. Was she paying for her replacement for nonperformance? Also, when a council member has a conflict of interest, they step down. It's not automatically a conflict of interest when someone refuses to do their job. To use the judge analogy, you'd have to also accept the analogy that someone goes to work for a butcher shop but refuses to do the job because of her beliefs. Is the employer automatically wrong there too? Or when a celiac goes to work in a flour mill and refuses to do her job. Or someone with peanut allergy won't touch peanuts. Or any number of other examples.

This whole thing doesn't make sense. There's got to be a lot of info missing. I'd like to know more about it. Any links to some articles, press releases, court action on this?

The problem is, people want to interject THEIR beliefs into it as to whether she's right or wrong rather than a logical view of facts, and granted we're only given very limited facts to start a discussion. As I see it, one's opinion on gay marriage is irrelevant. And unless there's some unknown fact, if it went to court it would be looked at on job performance, not that she was fired for her religious beliefs.

Looks to me like she was derelict in her duties. She's certainly entitled to her opinion on the issue. She's entitled to not perform those ceremonies. But if she was truly standing up for her "beliefs" she then should have stood have resigned rather than milk the gravy train as long as she could until she put her employer in a precarious situation. I don't know, but I seriously doubt she was doing this gratis.

When you think about it, she may well be violating the intention of the rules, if not the written rules of the church by finding a substitute, since that would be condoning the marriages. Perhaps she should be fired from her minister job too. Again, too little info and too few facts to say.

The toughest part isn't the issue, it's not knowing more. :)


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RE: A tough call.....

The link below is probably about this issue. The case had been voted on this past Mon night. It sounds like she held a contract position of performing city hall marriages in Cambridge.

Here is a link that might be useful: Marriage minister loses job


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RE: A tough call.....

Cambridge is a city in southwestern Ontario, on the south side of the freeway 401, near Kitchener and Waterloo (home of RIM), which are on the north side of 401.

They're about half way between London and Toronto. London being about half way between Toronto and Detroit/Windsor, that makes Cambridge about one-quarter the way between Toronto and Detroit/Windsor.

ole joyful


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