California's county clerks are being asked to excuse employees who have religious objections to same-sex marriages.
"Employees cannot be forced to participate in same-sex marriages in violation of their religious beliefs," leaders with Advocates for Faith and Freedom and the Seventh-day Adventist Church State Council advised in letter faxed to all state county clerks. The letter was sent on Monday, the first day that gay marriage ceremonies were legally conducted across the Golden State.
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They also say that county clerks have the option to perform marriage ceremonies for all couples, while also holding the option to perform none at all.
"Same-sex couples have argued that their personal sexual choices require public acceptance in order for 'equal protection' to exist," Robert Tyler, general counsel for Advocates, said. "It will be tragic if this pursuit of 'equality' actually results in inequality and discrimination against people of faith seeking to adhere to their religious liberty."
"This would certainly send a message of official state hostility toward religion," Tyler added.
"Religious employees have the right to be protected from discrimination in their workplace and are entitled to a reasonable accommodation of their beliefs," leaders wrote in the letter.
Their statements are based on provisions upheld in the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California's Fair Employment and Housing Act.
Council president Alan Reinach says same-sex marriages can be done without trampling on the religious rights of county employees.