In Kentucky, One Clerk Still Refuses To Issue Marriage Licenses To Same-Sex Couples

Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, KY.

Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, KY.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples had the same rights to marriage as heterosexual couples and throughout the remaining states that had bans on the books, most government clerks grudgingly accepted the fact that issuing marriage licenses to everyone was a part of their job function. After the ruling, three clerks in Kentucky held out for a period of time before finally relenting. However, Rowan County court clerk Kim Davis continues to refuse to do so despite injunctions against her, citing her religious beliefs.

Rowan County is about an hour east of Lexington on Interstate 64 in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. While red state cities like Lexington have joined the 21st century with ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, they’re surrounded by rural areas that are desperately clinging to the past. As an example, in Rowan County, the sale of alcohol is prohibited except in the county seat of Morehead.

Yes, the city that’s home to the last clerk in Kentucky refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples… is named “Morehead.” You just can’t make that up.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning granted a preliminary injunction against Davis sought by four Rowan County couples who applied for marriage licenses. Davis has refused to issue any marriage licenses in her county since June 26, when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage and Gov. Steve Beshear instructed all 120 of Kentucky’s county clerks to comply with the court’s decision.

Davis “likely has violated the constitutional rights of her constituents” by promoting her Christian beliefs “at the expense of others,” Bunning wrote in his order.

“The state is not asking her to condone same-sex unions on moral or religious grounds, nor is it restricting her from engaging in a variety of religious activities,” the judge wrote. “She is even free to believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman, as many Americans do. However, her religious convictions cannot excuse her from performing the duties that she took an oath to perform as Rowan County clerk.” (Source)

In a number of states like Mississippi, some clerks decided that their religious beliefs conflicted with the duties they were required to perform, and had the decency to resign instead of dragging it out in the way Kim Davis has. In Tennessee, an entire county clerk’s office quit after the Supreme Court’s ruling rather than issue marriage licenses, but at least they vacated their positions instead of acting like a stubborn zealot who refuses to recognize the law of the land.

From The Jackson Sun:

The three officers in the Decatur County Clerk’s Office have resigned from their positions because of their opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage, a county official said today.

According to Decatur County Commissioner David Boroughs, County Clerk Gwen Pope and employees Sharon Bell and Mickey Butler have all resigned because of religious opposition to the ruling. (Source)

My guess is that Kim Davis wants to be the next star of the religious right. I’m sure that many conservative blogs are portraying her as a brave evangelical Christian warrior who is being persecuted for her religious beliefs, which include denying rights to the citizens of Rowan County in defiance of the judicial system.

The courthouse is not a church. Kim Davis has to either follow the law and perform her job, or she has to step down and let someone else do it if her bizarre interpretation of the Bible is more important to her. She can serve the citizens of Rowan County, or she can serve her idea of god – but not both.


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