Monday, January 12, 2015

South Carolina, Texas would punish government employees for recognizing same-sex marriages


SC Rep. Gary Smith
Apparently some legislators in South Carolina got a real bee in their bonnet about losing the marriage equality fight.

And they are going to take it out on government employees who would recognized these marriages. On December 11, SC Reps Gary Smith and Bill Chumley filed House Bill (H3022)
TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION 20-1-235 SO AS TO PROHIBIT THE USE OF TAXPAYER FUNDS AND PAYMENT OF GOVERNMENT SALARIES AND BENEFITS FOR ACTIVITIES RELATED TO THE LICENSING AND SUPPORT OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE, TO PROHIBIT GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES FROM RECOGNIZING, GRANTING, OR ENFORCING SAME-SEX MARRIAGE LICENSES, TO PROHIBIT THE USE OF TAXES OR OTHER PUBLIC FUNDS TO ENFORCE A COURT ORDER TO ISSUE A SAME-SEX MARRIAGE LICENSE, TO REQUIRE COURTS TO DISMISS CERTAIN LEGAL ACTIONS RELATED TO THE LICENSING AND RECOGNITION OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE AND TO AWARD ATTORNEY'S FEES AND COSTS IN THOSE ACTIONS, AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE STATE FROM LIABILITY FOR CERTAIN CONDUCT.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION 1. Article 3, Chapter 1, Title 20 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

"Section 20-1-235.    (A)    No state or local taxpayer funds or governmental salaries may be paid for an activity that includes the licensing or support of same-sex marriage.

(B)    No state or local governmental employee officially shall recognize, grant, or enforce a same-sex marriage license. If an employee violates this subsection, the employee must not continue to receive a salary, pension, or other employee benefit at the expense of the taxpayers of this State.

(C)    No taxes or public funds may be utilized to enforce a court order requiring the issuance or recognition of a same-sex marriage license.

(D)    A court of this State shall dismiss a legal action challenging a provision of this section and shall award costs and attorney's fees to a person or entity named as a defendant in the legal action.

(E)    No person employed by this State or a local governmental entity who violates or interferes with the implementation of this section may continue to receive a salary, pension, or other employee benefit.

(F)    The State is not subject to suit in law or equity pursuant to the eleventh amendment of the United States Constitution for complying with the provisions of this section, regardless of a contrary federal court ruling.

(G)    If a judicial officer violates this section, that judicial officer is disqualified from office pursuant to Section 19, Article V of the South Carolina Constitution, 1895."

Here is something interesting which should be known. In Texas, legislators are proposing pretty much exactly the same bill, albeit with different text:

A bill has been introduced in the Texas Legislature that if enacted would strip the salary of any Texas-government employee who issues a marriage license to a same-sex couple.

Known as House Bill 623, the recently introduced bill declares that no state funds will go to the distribution of gay marriage licenses.

"State or local taxpayer funds or governmental salaries may not be used for an activity that includes the licensing or support of same-sex marriage," reads HB 623.

"If an employee violates this subsection, the employee may not continue to receive a salary, pension, or other employee benefit at the expense of the taxpayers of this State."

Of course these bill are ridiculous and would totally undercut our system of checks and balances as well as infringe upon the rights of same-sex couples who have legally won or could win the right to marriage. But I think the lgbt community, particularly our leaders, activists, and bloggers, would do ourselves a favor to not focus on the "puppets" in this matter, i.e. the lawmakers proposing these bills.  Instead, we should focus on the "puppet masters."

I am betting that we will see more of these mean-spirited bills pop up in other states because some entity is maneuvering this mess behind the scenes, probably even to the point of providing language for the lawmakers to use.

And I am almost certain that this entity, whoever it or they (meaning more than one organization) may be is obscuring their behind-the-scenes work by continuously claiming that Christians will be "persecuted" because of the onslaught of pro-marriage equality decisions.

It would be certainly embarrassing if these entities were made public, wouldn't it? After all, you can't plead victimhood when it shown that you have state legislators in your hip pockets.

 But who ever it or they may be, their hypocrisy is duly noted. Gay couples have been winning the right to marry fair and square via the courts. Seems to me that if these folks proposing all of this nasty legislation had any legitimate argument against marriage equality in the first place, they wouldn't be in the position to have to stoop so low in order to stop it.



3 comments :

Bob Donahue said...

If I recall correctly - wasn't there a clue in one of last month's press releases (NOM? FotF?) that "something big was coming that we can't talk about"?

I suspect that this is it.

An interesting wrinkle would be to be a pro-equality state employee who then sues the state with the argument that his/her religious freedom has been violated because they're not allowed to legally act upon their pro-equality belief.

karlschneider said...

These people have gone WAY beyond hypocrisy, now they're just being pricks.

Laura Bantens said...

Is there any kind of petition or other recourse to stand up against this crap, oh I mean bill?