BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ Some employees in the Yellowstone County clerk's office have objected to processing same-sex wedding licenses and as a result aren't being asked to do so for the time being.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Brian Morris overturned Montana's gay-marriage ban effective immediately. Since then, one deputy clerk has expressed religious objections to granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples while three others have objected on moral grounds, Yellowstone County Clerk Kristie Lee Boelter said.
County Human Relations Director Dwight Vigness consulted with the county attorney's office and decided to exempt the four from having to issue same-sex marriage licenses, Boelter told The Billings Gazette (http://bit.ly/11nGVwr).
The decision was based on part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, she said, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate based on several factors, including religion.
Boelter said she isn't happy with the decision. The 20 deputy clerks in her office have taken an oath to uphold the law, she pointed out.
``In my opinion, some of those same religions (objecting to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples) also disagree with divorce, and yet we deal with many divorce cases in this office,'' Boelter said. ``I don't think that's fair.''
Vigness said the exemption applies to ``one small aspect of many duties'' of one clerk.
``What we are talking about are the essential functions of government, and they are still getting done,'' he said.