Tag Archives: Julie Smith

County clerk stands on principle … and quits

Dana Guffey is a principled public servant.

Do I agree with a particular principle that caused her to quit her job as a county clerk in Arkansas? No — but that’s not the point of this post.

My point is that Guffey quit her public service job because she opposes the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalizes gay marriage across the land.

She should be applauded for her principled decision, which has far more integrity than the idea promoted by¬†Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who said it is just fine with him if county clerks declined to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Paxton’s view has been endorsed by Texas Republican officeholders.

These county clerks¬†can stay on the job. They just don’t have to fulfill their oath.

http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2015/06/arkansas-clerk-will-resign-over-moral-objection-to-issuing-samesex-marriage-licenses/

To their credit, Potter and Randall counties’ clerks — Republicans Julie Smith and Renee Calhoun, respectively — have said they will issue licenses to same-sex couples when the opportunities present themselves. They’ve chosen to fulfill their oath, which means they vow to uphold national and state laws.

Meanwhile, Cleburne County, Ark., Clerk Dana Guffey has chosen to quit rather than do something with which she disagrees.

The Roosevelt County, N.M., clerk quit her job as well when New Mexico legalized gay marriage in 2013. I had no problem with her resignation, either. It, too, became a matter of principle.

No one says a public official must continue to hold a job if they disagree with fulfilling any of its required duties. The highest court in America has determined that since gay marriage is now legal, that it is constitutional — as opposed to state laws prohibiting it. Thus, issuing marriage licenses to gay couples becomes part of the job description.

If you cannot do the job, you quit.

That is what Dana Guffey did.

Hats off to local county clerks

If I were wearing a hat at this moment, I’d tip it to two Texas county clerks: Randall County’s Renee Calhoun and Potter County’s Julie Smith.

All they did was agree to adhere to their oath of office and will issue marriage licenses to gay couples who seek them.

This is in accordance with a Supreme Court decision this past week that legalized gay marriage across the nation. It also resists the notion that they could refuse to issue licenses to same-sex couples, which Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton authorized them to do.

Given the extreme partisan divide across the land, it’s fair to make this point: Both women, Calhoun and Smith, are Republican county clerks. The state AG also is a Republican. They are defying the state’s attorney general, who contends that clerks could object if they had religious objections to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The two county clerks plan to issue the licenses as soon as they get some paperwork matters straightened out.

Good for them.

Paxton’s decision to allow the clerks to refuse issuing the licenses has met with mixed response from county clerks across the state.

The attorney general’s approach to this matter is wrong-headed, as it seeks to allow these elected officials to disavow the oath of office they took, which is to follow the laws of the nation and the state.

The Supreme Court has determined — as the final arbiter of what is constitutional and what is not — that state bans on same-sex marriage violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Thus, gay marriage is now legal.

Judge will marry gays, if duty calls

Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner is on record already on an issue that well could generate a good bit of controversy.

Back when she was running for the office to which she was elected, Tanner — along with her four Republican primary opponents — took part in a candidate forum sponsored by Panhandle PBS. I was privileged to be one of the journalists questioning the candidates.

One of the panelists asked all the candidates a most probing question: Given that Texas law gives county judges the authority to perform marriage ceremonies, would you — as county judge — be willing to perform a ceremony uniting a same-sex couple in matrimony?

Some of the candidates hemmed and hawed. One of them said “no,” he wouldn’t do it.

Tanner’s response? She was unequivocal. If the courts rule that gay marriage is legal in Texas, then she would follow the law. She would marry anyone with a valid marriage license. That would be her¬†responsibility as county judge and she would perform it.

Her answer was straightforward as it could have been. It didn’t harm her at the polls, as she won the GOP primary outright and went on to be elected county judge in November 2014.

As of this morning, the issue hasn’t yet presented itself to Judge Tanner. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has said county clerks can refuse to issue marriage licenses if they have a religious objection to the Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized gay marriage.

There’s been no word that I’ve heard about whether Potter County Clerk Julie Smith is going to follow the law or ignore it, per Paxton’s decision.

Tanner’s take on the issue is clear. What’s cloudy and muddled is whether another countywide elected official, Smith, is going to follow the law.

Stay tuned. This could get dicey.