Virginia legislators believe they’ve found a solution to the battle between Christian county clerks and gay marriage, also known as religious freedom vs. the law.
Last summer’s Obergefelle v. Hodges ruling, which declared gay marriage a national right, put Christian county clerks in the uncomfortable and morally challenging situation of having to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis became the face of the fight after being jailed for refusing to issue licenses to any couples after the Supreme Court ruling, including homosexual couple David Ermold and David Moore. Presidential candidates like Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz flew to Davis' side to show their support, defining her as a freedom fighter. She was eventually released from prison and a few months later Gov. Matt Bevin ushered in an executive order for clerks like her to allow a third party to issue such licenses.
Yet, the larger national issue has hardly been resolved.
In Richmond, Virginia, a group of Republican lawmakers voted 8-7 to advance Senate Bill 40. Under this piece of legislation, clerks of court and their deputies would be permitted to abstain from issuing same-sex marriage licenses if doing so would violate their personal consciences. Sen. Charles W. “Bill” Carrico Sr., who sponsored the bill, is adamant about the compromise it appears to offer.
Carrico's bill would empower the state's Department of Motor Vehicles offices or the Registrar of Vital Statistics to also issue the licenses, should a clerk object to doing so on ethical, moral or religious grounds.
"What I'm trying to give here is another option," he said.
Virginia Democrats, however, are not impressed with Carrico’s effort.
"This bill calls for separate and unequal treatment," said Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, the Senate's only openly gay member. "This is immoral, unjust and unconstitutional.”
What do you think? Does Carrico’s proposition offer a potential solution to this controversial battle?