The proverbial childish foot stomping continues over the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, when a Tennessee Trial Court judge, Jeffrey M. Atherton denied a straight couple’s request to be divorced.
At the end of a multi day trial on their divorce, the judicial officer used the opportunity to make a political statement about his views of the Supreme Court’s holding that the United States Constitution forbids states from denying same sex couples the right to marry each other. The essence of Atherton’s speech was that if the State of Tennessee cannot define when a marriage is permissible to be entered into he is without power to decide when a marriage has ended. All I can picture is my three (3) year old daughter stomping her foot as hard as she can, flail her arms, and scream at me “it’s not fair daddy.”
Atherton’s childish behavior comes on the heels of the Kentucky County Clerk, Kim Davis, being jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples even after being ordered to do so by a Federal Court Judge.
Gay marriage is a divisive issue between religious extremists and those that support ultimate equality. It has been divisive issue for a long time and will likely be divisive for a long time to come. These situations recons back to 1967 when a mixed race couple was sentenced to prison for marrying each other because they violated a Virginia law forbidding mixed race marriages. The case was Loving v. Virginia, and just as in Obergefell the Supreme Court found the law and other laws like it unconstitutional. Hands were thrown in the air, people screamed abomination, and people accused the Supreme Court of overstepping. Sound familiar? Yet today very few people would say jailing mix race couples who wanted to marry is a good thing. As most of the Country came to accept the ruling in Loving v. Virginia as sound policy so will they about gay marriage (in time).
I understand these public officials desire a loud podium to express their personal beliefs; however, they are public officials sworn to serve the public. When I was sworn in as an attorney I swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States and last time I checked the Supreme Court was the ultimate keeper of interpreting the Constitution. If the job of upholding the Constitution, or at least the Supreme Court’s interpretation of it, is no longer palatable for these public servants because of their personal beliefs then I urge them and any others like them to simply resign their positions.
It matters not how I or anyone else feels about gay marriages any longer as the Supreme Court has spoken. We in the United States are a land of laws and public servants are our means of upholding, supporting, and enforcing those laws. Do your job or step aside, it’s that easy.