The Hon. Robert Duckworth True Profile In Christian Courage Who Takes His Oath Seriously, Opposes Homosexual “Marriage”
The Hon. Robert P. Duckworth, Clerk Of The Circuit Court For Anne Arundel County Maryland, has said categorically that he will never be a party to “marrying” homosexuals. He is a true Christian profile in courage. And on February 22, 2006, Michael Anthony Peroutka and I had the privilege of interviewing him on our nationally-syndicated radio show “The American View.” Here are slightly edited excerpts of what Clerk Duckworth had to say. We should keep him and his family in our prayers. – J.L.
I don’t really consider myself an American hero. I’m just one of many from the American people [who is concerned about] where our culture’s going…and that’s why I’ve taken a stand on this issue. I have had conscience issues on the gay marriages issue. And I feel that as Clerk of the Court in Anne Arundel County I have performed thousands of weddings and marriages and they’ve all been good experiences for me and many nice memories. But I think if we go in the direction of homosexual marriages or gay marriages then we have turned the institution of marriage on its head…I’ve been married almost 40 years and to me it’s the most sacred of rights [that] Thomas Jefferson said government must secure. And when government doesn’t secure a right like that then I have a concern.
I believe that traditional marriage is the cornerstone of society and that marriage is not a universal right that ever Tom Dick and Harry can come to the courthouse and become married. I think that’s a very dangerous direction. So it’s not a universal right. If that were to happen who knows where this would lead us. We might have to recognize the Mormons who would like to marry, in that case, more than and have more than one person.
America is on a very slippery cultural slope right now. And to turn marriage, tip it, turn marriage on its head — turn it into what it’s not — just sends us further [down] that slippery slope. We have the concerns of children, the concerns of family – the concerns of society – indeed the purpose of marriage is – the institution of marriage is – to strengthen society, and safeguard marriages, and safeguard families. And to turn marriage on its head is to go against all of those things. It would just go against all of those things, and plus it would go against the law of nature.
Pigs will fly over the courthouse before I ever entertain or give gay marriages. But I do think it is a nullity – it is a contradiction of natural law. Man-made law is not the absolute law. It is a moral relative term. It is a reflection of our society. We’re competing today with the God upon which our country was built and our Constitution was written. We’re competing with the secular god which wants to tear up that Constitution and tear up that natural law, and just see the world through the eyes of man. Positive law, law created by man , cannot reflect the natural law. Natural law is a much higher law, and I come to my position to refuse to perform gay marriage in the courthouse from that position. Our Maryland Constitution was built upon common law, and common law which goes back to the Magna Carta [which was] a testament to the natural law, about many rights that we have including the marriage right of a man and a woman. So, for all that law to be ignored by a judge to me says the judge has overreached and has gone beyond the bounds of the natural law. I want to stay within the bounds of natural law. And that’s why I would refuse to perform such marriages.
I’ve had a very good reaction from many, many corners, but I’ve also had some negative reaction. I’ve had some telephone calls from people who support gay marriages who have called me a bigot, and who have called me mean spirited and hateful. And I’m not a mean-spirited and hateful person. I’m not out to bash gays, I’m not out to bash gays, I’m out to bash gay marriages. There’s a difference. And everybody is a creature of God. Everybody deserves their dignity and their rights. But when it comes to marriage and the institute of marriage that’s not the place to go to get your economic and civil rights.
We have before us the Constitutional amendment to preserve the [Maryland] Constitution. I would say to [our legislators that they should] allow that amendment to go on the ballot in 2006 so that the people will have a voice. Our government is to serve the people and protect their rights. Not to allow that amendment to go before the people on the ballot, I think reflects a lack of leadership on the part of our legislators. It’s time for them to find their steel spine and stand up to this issue and not hide hibernate from it. What they want to do is they want to allow this lower court opinion [approving homosexual marriage] to be decided upon in the Appellate Court of Maryland. And if the Appellate Court of Maryland supports it – upholds the opinion – then our elected officials want to wait until 2008 to put this on the ballot. Well, I want to tell you that if that happens we will have a window here of no man’s land actually, of what we have to do as Clerk Of The Court. So I want to tell the legislators: “Please, do what you are there to do. Stand up to this issue. It’s a profound social issue. Allow this amendment to preserve marriage before the people. So that the people can have a voice.” To allow one judge, or an Appellate Bench to decide this issue it goes against not just against their role as legislators, but the rights of the people to be heard. In fact it infringes on the power of the people on a very powerful issue. So I’m telling them, please stand up, because if you don’t stand up, the voters in November will take you down.
The Maryland Constitution, by the way, is very interesting because it was May of 1776 — that’s before the U.S. was a nation. And in that Constitution the legislative body has certain powers and the powers that come into this certain situation are being usurped if this legislation does not stand up. What happens to me is — it’s in the hands of God, and it’s in the hands of people and it’s in the hands of the courts because I will file a lawsuit to stop it.
I would file a lawsuit to prevent any action against me. What would probably happen [if I refuse to marry homosexuals] is this —I might be court ordered to do, to perform these ceremonies and to issue marriage licenses. And if I am court ordered to do that then I would be in contempt of court and I could possibly be put in jail if I didn’t do this. So if that happened I would certainly bring the whole thing back to the court and try to stop that action.
Well, what one could say [about Catholic legislators who ignore church teaching against homosexual unions] is: “What does the church do against political leaders who are Catholic and advocate abortion?” And there’s been quite a bit of controversy as to what to do in terms of the mass — giving out communion, that kind of thing. The judge or leaders who act not in accordance with their Catholicism are going to have to answer — at least to themselves and to God if not to the church.
We need to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. And when it comes to the institute of marriage it belongs to God not to Caesar. And in this recent ruling by the judge – the circuit court judge – about marriage, that statute that was looked at as illegal or un-Constitutional does not give the right of marriage. It only recognizes it or reaffirms the natural law and the institution of marriage.
I think if the legislature could recognize the things that are theirs, Caesar’s, and distinguish that from the things that are God’s, then they would come down and make the right decision and put this issue before the people for a Constitutional amendment to preserve marriage because the people will rise up and their voice will be heard in this. I find it interesting that you have to go to the people to understand what God intended. I mean the people haven’t lost sight of natural law, they haven’t lost sight of who they render whatever they render to. They know the difference between Caesar and God and if we have a Constitutional amendment placed on the 2006 ballot the people will say, the judge was wrong. Marriage is certainly something that should only be between a man and a woman. And you give the people a chance to be heard and we will hear the voice of God.
Our Constitution — the state’s constitution was drafted to preserve and secure the rights of people. And so in terms of preserving rights, like the marriage right, the government does have a role in preserving it.
There are just two principles that are clashing here and one principle is that the institution of marriage belongs to the natural law. It does not belong to government. Government needs to preserve it as a right but it’s not a universal right. The other issue is that one person, a judge or an Appellate Court, should not even begin to take that, to look at that institution and change it. People deserve to at least have a crack at that and their voice needs to be heard. I profoundly believe that people will not go against the natural law and against God on it.
My oath of office is also my conscience. Bob Duckworth is not a man that is divided into little boxes. One box for elections, one box for going to church on Sunday and one box for something else. I’m a whole package. And so when I say it’s a matter of conscience, I’m a Catholic and it is a matter of conscience with me. I do adhere to what we hear from the Catholic Church. And as the Clerk Of The Court for Anne Arundel County, what you see is what you get. Bob Duckworth is a whole person spiritually and physically.
There’s a big danger there. You can’t just hibernate from this [homosexual marriage issue] as a bear does in winter. You can’t. You’ve got to show leadership. The danger there is if it were to go to the Court of Appeals and the Court were to uphold the lower court ruling, the legislative body would then come back in the next session, perhaps, if they had a spine of steel and then ask for the Constitutional Amendment to preserve marriage. That would go on the 2008 ballot — two full years from now. In the mean time, as Clerk of the Court — where the rubber meets the road, I’m in the trenches — I have to confront a situation where we’re in a never-never-land of people coming to the courthouse with a lower court ruling that’s been upheld by an Appellate Court, people coming to the Courthouse of the same sex to get married.
I’m on the horns of a dilemma. The people are on the horns of a dilemma too because the have to wait until 2008 because the General Assembly lacked the spine to put it on the ballot this year and deal with it now. And rather than hibernate — leadership means just what it says: you have to lead especially on profound issues like this and if you don’t you must step down and if you don’t step down you get voted out. But what will happen to me is, I will get confronted with a situation where I’m in this never-land of people coming to the Courthouse – same sex couples – seeking to get marriage licenses. I am really in a — it’s not a tough decision. I know what I would do. I would refuse it. But it does put me in a situation where my conscience and adherence to natural law and my oath clashes with what a judicial mandate has before me. And so what I would do is of course refuse, and then I would be court ordered and then the next step is I would take legal action. It would be a mess.