Friday, February 6, 2015

Joseph O. Patton: Probate judges jump on the bigotry bandwagon

  As Alabama's clock ticks down to the opening day of marriage equality Monday, probate judges across the state - perhaps to pander, perhaps because they're simply hateful - are opting to no longer offer marriage officiating at county probate offices. Though offering such a service isn't required by law, it has been a given, a long-standing tradition and something routinely offered throughout the state.

  But rather than serve their fellow taxpaying Alabamians (the same individuals who pay their salaries) - in this case same-sex couples who will finally be able to be treated like full citizens of these United States - a number of the state's county probate judges are abruptly abolishing this service in order to avoid having to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies. It's the equivalent of a bratty, snot-nosed loser on the ball field taking his ball and going home because he just had his ass handed to him in a little league game.

  If these individuals have hangups about serving the public, they should be pursuing a career outside of public service.

  It's unprofessional. It's tacky. It's petty. And it's indisputably being done out of malice and prejudice. Then again, Alabama has a well-deserved reputation for that type of shit. And sadly, many Alabamians will continue to relish standing on the wrong side of history. Just count the Confederate Flags still littering our landscape....

  The hate-fueled change in policy will also serve to shoot ourselves in the collective foot. Probate offices in our 67 counties make money from officiating marriage ceremonies. It's easy money and helps fill the coffers in a state that is perpetually revenue-challenged. But I guess if you're motivated by hatred, no price is too high.

  It's truly sad no matter how you approach it - the hatred, the divisiveness, the animosity - but I would imagine most same-sex couples don't want to be wed by an unabashed bigot anyway. They'll hopefully find venues and locations free of the bullying breath of our elected officials who use our taxpayer dollars to spread ignorance and divide us.

  So to all the probate judges in our great state who are jumping on this bandwagon for bigotry, I say to you: Discriminating against your fellow Alabamians doesn't make you a Christian. Judging others with cherry-picked, self-serving Bible verses doesn't make you holy, especially while ignoring the rest of that book. Denigrating your fellow human beings out of ignorance doesn't make you upright. And bullying others out of fear or a self-serving need to pander to your constituents doesn't make you strong. It just makes you a cruel, morally-challenged asshole.

  If you're a same-sex couple in need of an officiant for your marriage ceremony, here's a county-by-county list of individuals available:

  About the author: Joseph O. Patton is the editor-in-chief and founder of the Capital City Free Press. He is a former news editor for the Coosa County News, lead reporter for the Montgomery Independent and editor-in-chief of the AUMnibus, the student newspaper of Auburn-Montgomery. Patton is also the creator of and writer for the satirical news radio segment "Goat Hill Gossip," which previously aired on WAUD in Auburn, Alabama and has appeared on several Central Alabama radio programs as a political analyst.

Copyright © Capital City Free Press

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