John Stemberger

In an email to supporters this morning John Stemberger, head of the Christian conservative Florida Family Policy Council, concedes that same-sex marriages will likely start in all Florida counties tomorrow. Stemberger writes:

So what will end up happening this Tuesday, January 6th?

Apart from an unexpected legal miracle, it appears that county clerks in all 67 Florida counties will begin to issue same-sex marriage licenses on this date. We do know that the clerks in Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties, meanwhile, have joined clerks in Baker, Clay, and Duval counties in discontinuing all courthouse wedding ceremonies – rather than allow “gay” couples to use that service for their weddings. In other words, the clerks will take the first step of issuing the license forms but they will not conduct courthouse ceremonies solemnizing those same-sex marriages (or any other marriages) in order to respect the rights of conscience of those clerks and their employees from having to officiate over these very controversial same-sex unions.

I am not at all sure that I understand why the word gay is within defensive quotes. Nor, for that matter do I appreciate what is “very controversial” about same-sex marriages. Some gay couples getting hitched over the last 11 years or so doesn’t seem to have caused the planet to spin off its axis. As for “rights of conscience,” those are not rights at all. Courthouse weddings are civil ceremonies. Mr. Stemberger suggests that a right to discriminate exists for marriages that a courthouse employee does not approve of. Fortunately, his or her approval is not required and the employee is required to service all citizens. If the civil servant is unable to do so then they should find another means of employment.

Stemberger continues:

Final Thoughts and Perspective:
It is one thing for a governmental body to produce bad policy. But when government produces a bad policy using an illegitimate process, it just undermines the legitimacy of the government all the more-in this case the legitimacy of the courts. Out of the 35 states that have currently enacted same-sex marriages, only 11 have done it with a legitimate process of either a popular vote or a legislative enactment from duly elected officials. The other 24 states, and soon Florida, will have used an illegitimate process of courts which have overstepped their bounds with judges who have acted outside the proper scope of a judge.

Mr. Stemberger is a practicing attorney. I wonder how he ever passed the bar exam considering his spectacularly errant view of the roll of the courts in this country. Did Florida use an “illegitimate process of courts” when it desegregated? Apparently only those judicial decisions that Mr. Stemberger likes are legitimate. Judges need to seek Stemberger’s approval before they make a ruling.

Finally I would really like to understand what possible difference it makes to Mr. Stemberger if some of his gay neighbors get married. Opponents of gay marriage act as if they were being forced to gay marry. What’s it to ya John?

By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.