In an email to the Elbert County Board of County Commissioners, Jim Duvall — the husband of Elbert County Democratic Party Chairperson Jill Duvall — has raised objections to a poster displayed in a public area of the county Clerk and Recorder's office.
The poster, located in an office where the county conducts public business including issuing marriage licenses, is the property of Elbert County Clerk and Recorder Dallas Schroeder. It depicts a sketch of a woman in a white wedding dress with the flowers from her bouquet drifting toward a distant man in a tuxedo.
The caption filling the top of the poster quotes a portion of the English Standard Version translation of First Corinthians 7:2 from the Bible: “… each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.” The entire sentence from the Bible reads, “But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.”
In his letter, Jim Duvall said that the poster “is in violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution … Bible verse promoting a particular type of marriage … this will be the focus of another lawsuit if not removed.”
Schroeder said that Duvall's objection to the poster is the first in the 15 months that it has hung on the wall, and he has no intention of taking it down.
Jill Duvall countered by saying that local resident Tony Corrado had made numerous requests to the county clerk for removal of the poster.
“This issue was initially brought up several months ago with the clerk's office and was revisited two weeks ago with the county clerk,” she said. “So far it has not been addressed by the county clerk.”
If the issue were brought to court, the case could pit the right of individual free speech against the separation clause, both foundations of the U.S. Constitution. Historically, many courts have applied a ruling from the 1968 Supreme Court case Pickering v Board of Education as a basis for their decisions. The so-called Pickering Test balances free speech for an individual employee with those of a public employer. The outcome of such suits throughout the United States has been mixed.
District 1 County Commissioner Robert Rowland interpreted the meaning of the poster as being generic and representative of mankind as a whole. He supports keeping the poster up and attributes Duvall's action to a tactic in a strategy targeting individual county officials modeled after Saul Alinsky's “12 Rules for Radicals” Cast suspicion and then disrupt, disrupt, disrupt.
“I am not familiar with Alinsky's `12 Rules for Radicals,'” Jill Duvall said. “Perhaps Mr. Rowland can enlighten your readers.”
Jill Duvall is currently engaged in other legal action with the county over a $1,000 fine levied against Rowland, which evolved from the BOCC's violation of the Colorado Fair Campaign Practices Act in 2013.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Madison, Wisconsin-based nonprofit group, also weighed in on the poster, calling it “unconstitutional" in a Nov. 25 news release.
To date, Elbert County has issued two same-sex marriage licenses.