Shall the throne of iniquity, which devises evil by law, have fellowship with You?
— Psalm 94:20
By David Tulis
County clerks in Tennessee face the prospect of orders from on high that would appear to force them to record marital unions between two guys or two females. Gay marriage strikes at the heart of Christendom and capital; it also constitutes a lie.
But on what grounds can these men and women stand, as in Alabama dozens of probate judges are refusing to cooperate with an implied directive from a federal trial-level judge saying Alabama’s marriage law cannot be enforced because it is illegal?
The law of perjury is a significant defense against a county clerk who refuses to cave in to gay theory. The teeth of this law should not be seen as harsh and unreasoning, but as a sure defense against the entry into the public record of pretended mischiefs of LGBTQ’s throbs.
The law of perjury in Tennessee doesn’t brook falsity in recordkeeping. For a constitutional officer such as county clerk to record a homosexual union is effectively to commit a crime.
A flood of words from federal courts, however, seeks to obliterate this problem that will be faced by Bill Knowles in Hamilton County, Dwight Minter in Marion, Charlotte Cagle in Sequatchie and others. In Montgomery, Ala., U.S. district court judge Callie Granade contends her opinion about gay marriage is “the law of the land,” according to ACLU attorney David Kennedy.
But is it?
A crime between your ears
The locus of the crime of perjury is subjective. It takes place in seat of the clerk’s heart and mind when he enters into the record that two men are united in holy matrimony and he knows that such is not a fact, is not possible, is not true. Judges in Alabama have quit rather than file such miscreant records.
It is a crime when the clerk knows in is mind that two men cannot be united in marriage under Tennessee’s constitutional marriage amendment and the relevant downstream statute. It is a crime because if the subjective state of that man or women in the office knows as a fact gays cannot marry, it is a crime to record that Jim and Joe are, pursuant to their application, man and wife, or legal spouses.
Essential elements of offense
➤ Perjury takes place when the statement or record is material, when it “could have affected the course or outcome of the official proceeding.” Here, trials are in view.
➤ In public recordkeeping there is an implied oath, and an oath is “a solemn and formal undertaking to tell the truth.” The equivalent is an affirmation.
➤ “‘Official proceeding’ means any type of administrative, executive, judicial, or legislative proceeding that is conducted before a public servant authorized by law to take statements under oath in that proceeding.” Again, the definition implies a courtroom setting. But the rule applies to any recording or testimony about a matter of fact.
➤ A clerk’s record of marriages is a “statement” that is a “representation of fact” and not merely a legal opinion.
Flapdoodle on ‘official document’
The law forbids any deception before the state, before an officer of the state or by a state actor who has authority over the people’s record.
(a) A person commits an offense who, with intent to deceive:
(1) Makes a false statement, under oath;
(2) Makes a statement, under oath, that confirms the truth of a false statement previously made and the statement is required or authorized by law to be made under oath;
(3) Makes a false statement, not under oath, but on an official document required or authorized by law to be made under oath and stating on its face that a false statement is subject to the penalties of perjury; or
(4) Makes a false statement, not under oath, but in a declaration stating on its face that it is made under penalty of perjury.
The law says some forms of perjury are worthy of less than a year in prison. But lying on a handgun carry permit or on sexual offender or violent sexual offender TBI registration are felonies, worthy of a year or more.
Especially noxioius forms of perjury are “aggravated.”
A county clerk commits aggravated perjury when he intends to deceive and his false statement “is made during or in connection with an official proceeding” with the false statement being material. It’s no defense for Madam Clerk to presume that the statement is immaterial.
The only way out of a perjury charge is for the clerk to retract the false statement “before completion of the testimony at the official proceeding during which the aggravated perjury was committed.” That’s a pretty small window, given the humdrum operations of a clerk’s office, with its car tag registration and other swamp of administrative tasks.
If the official proceeding of recording a septic marital union is in progress, the clerk’s deception can be undone if he changes his mind in a matter of seconds.
But once it enters the stream of recordkeeping, it is too late. At that point, the recordkeeper’s engaging his office staff to facilitate entry of the false record into the system multiplies his offense. The poison now changes its name from perjury to “subornation of perjury,” having others join you in your dissimulation. “A person commits an offense [of subornation] who, with the intent to deceive, induces another to make a false statement constituting perjury or aggravated perjury,” the law explains.
‘Knowledge of falsity’
Generally, “under both federal and state law, knowledge of the falsity of the statement at the time it is made is an essential element of the crime of perjury.”
American Jurisprudence 2d, the legal encyclopedia, goes on:
Thus, a person who testifies falsely, but in good faith with the honest belief that he is telling the truth, is not guilty of perjury. Similarly, a false answer given because of inadvertence, confusion, an honest mistake or faulty memory does not constitute perjury.
The subjective state of mind of a county clerk is a key element in a defense for “defying” a federal court order over marriage licenses. A county clerk who knows the truth about marriage is held to a higher standard than one who does not know or does not care. A clerk who cares not for marriage may harmlessly unite two poofters because his confusion or inadvertence are not perjurous.
But for the man or woman in office who knows the truth about marriage pursuant to God’s law and its claims reflected in his state’s marriage law, a high bar stands before him. It’s a matter of character that he stand on conscience and execute his office according to his oath. A man of Christian bearing who perceives the high stakes in the cultural war against marriage and law will shrink from perjury, with its razor teeth. He will act, though, not in fear of perjury, but in love of his oath of office, and his love of his duty to the people to uphold his state’s honorable law.
‡ Tennessee’s God-honoring marriage amendment is at Article 11, section 18.
Section 18. The historical institution and legal contract solemnizing the relationship of one man and one woman shall be the only legally recognized marital contract in this state. Any policy or law or judicial interpretation, purporting to define marriage as anything other than the historical institution and legal contract between one man and one woman, is contrary to the public policy of this state and shall be void and unenforceable in Tennessee. If another state or foreign jurisdiction issues a license for persons to marry and if such marriage is prohibited in this state by the provisions of this section, then the marriage shall be void and unenforceable in this state.