Van Buren clerk says she won't issue marriage licenses: UPDATE: Changes tune. | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Van Buren clerk says she won't issue marriage licenses: UPDATE: Changes tune.

Posted By on Wed, Jul 8, 2015 at 2:33 PM

click to enlarge vanburen.jpg
click to enlarge PAM BRADFORD
UPDATE: Channel 4's Greg Yarbrough tells me at 5 p.m. that reporter Marci Manley has talked with Van Buren Clerk Pam Bradford, who has not returned my calls. She tells Manley that she's spoken with an Arkansas attorney, Mike Rainwater, who provides legal advice to county governments through the Association of Arkansas Counties, and is now saying she will issue marriage licenses — and treat customers "with respect." This followed by about an hour a phone message to me from Mathew Staver, head of the Liberty Counsel in Texas, which said it had agreed to represent Bradford to defend her in resisting issuance of licenses. Moral: Local advice better than that of outside agitator.

Following is what I'd reported previously.

Pam Bradford, the Van Buren County clerk, circulated the memo shown above to all county clerks Tuesday announcing her intention to defy the U.S. Supreme Court and have her office refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

She was out of the office when I called, but an employee confirmed the memo and said, as yet, no same-sex couples had presented themselves in the county to obtain a marriage license.

Bradford's resistance is contrary to the position taken by both Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. Even the anti-gay Family Council, which is promoting ways in which people opposed to marriage can avoid participation in the process, distributed the advice from another religious legal organization that the best means to avoid compliance is to have someone else who is willing to do the work do it in place of someone with objections. Bradford has taken this a step farther.

Bradford is a Republican and attends Shirley First Baptist Church according to her Facebook page. The clerk's office is in Clinton.

Many more calls to make, but this is what I know now. The Liberty Counsel works to provide legal assistance to people hoping to promote religion in public life. It has been encouraging resistance to the Supreme Court ruling and has already urged support for a Texas clerk who has refused to follow the ruling.

Note that the law of Arkansas cited by Bradford has been ruled unconstitutional in both state and federal court. It's an interesting step to claim your individual freedom not only protects you from following Supreme Court precedent but allows you to impose your religion on all other clerk's office employees.

The Association of Arkansas Counties said it was continuing to tell clerks who inquired that its counsel was to abide by the Supreme Court ruling. A spokesman said it hadn't heard Wednesday from other clerk's offices with similar plans. The memo was circulated Tuesday. One clerk, in Cleburne County, has announced intentions to resign rather than issue licenses. At least one other has expressed reluctantly an intent to obey the court ruling.

One clerk in Texas was sued after resisting issuance of a license. Here's a rundown of happenings there, with the Plano-based Liberty Counsel working hard to stir up opposition.

From Twitter, it appears Sen. Missy Irvin is on board with defying the rule of law. Another Ghost of Faubus.

click to enlarge missy.jpg

The hate group Family Council cheers defiance of the law and the Liberty Counsel's apparent willing to defend someone who not only defies the law but requires others to do so as well. "No one loses their First Amendment freedoms by becoming a public official," he sanctimoniously and misleadingly intoned.

Bradford is free to think and say whatever she wishes. But she is also obliged by oath of office to uphold the Constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court for more than 200 years has been the arbiter of that interpretation and says preventing same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. She must do her duty or quit. Or be thrown in jail for contempt of court. Cox insists each individual clerk may decide whether to issue licenses. Really? May a Catholic clerk refuse a license for a divorced couple. May an unreconstructed Baptist refuse a mixed-race couple (another one of those cases where the Supreme Court "made law.") I'd prefer not to serve people who disobey the Great Commandment to love everyone. But as a government official, I'd understand though my ability to speak and think is not restricted, my actions must meet ALL standards, not just my own flavor of religion.

And, just to put a cherry on top of this steaming pile of homemade stuff, how about a look at the new profile photo posted June 24 on Pam Bradford's family Facebook page.


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