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On the Quiet Heroism of Bureaucrats

(This is a cross-post from my Snip, Burn, Solder Blog)

I continue to write a monthly column for the Ann Arbor Chronicle, and it just dawned on me--on the eve of the publication of my June column--that I totally neglected to post a link to my May column (which is significantly more upbeat). It begins like this:

The Ann Arbor Chronicle | In it for the Money: Equal Marriage

Back in March, for just shy of 24 hours, Michigan was willing to license, solemnize, and recognize the marriage of any two people without getting all particular about their genitals. [1] The three-judge appellate panel is still out on whether the question of a happily-ever-after for non-bigots and wedding-lovers here in Michigan. But that was still a pretty wonderful day.

In one sense that day resulted from a specific victory in court: A courageous couple embarked on a legal battle in order to protect their adopted children in the case that either parent dies, lawyers argued the case, and based on the merit of those oral arguments and the testimony of experts a federal judge issued a very strongly-worded decision.

By itself, all of that was a wonderful example of our legal system basically working as we’d hope.

But here’s the thing: If that was all that had been done – just plaintiffs and lawyers and experts and a level-headed judge – no one could have gotten married on Saturday, March 22, 2014. No offices would have been open, no staff would have been on hand, and the appropriate forms would not have existed.

So today I want to sing the praises of the quiet heroism of county clerks – who are, for the vast bulk of law-abiding citizens, the daily executors of the Law, which is to say our Will as a People. This column is meant to record in something approaching a permanent way their mettle in helping to bend the Arc of the Moral Universe towards Justice. . . .

And goes on in that manner for a reasonable number of words, then stops. In the middle, we cover the intricacies of marriage applications and the weird contortions that bigoted laws demand.

If for no other reason, please click through to reap the benefits of reading the piece's lone footnote.