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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  • Eg Kbbs

    Looking beyond this one person, I’m surprised that such grandstanding (in multiple locations) hasn’t already been rewarded by contempt charges. I can’t see why it isn’t a slam dunk case coming down the line for everything from dismissal (for refusing to do their job), state charges, various civil rights violations (for her as well as her supervisors for knowingly allowing this to happen, etc.), lawsuits against the state, lawsuits against her personally (as she isn’t acting in her official duties)……..

    I realize it is probably a stretch, but so many places have deliberately done this (and publically announced they are doing this – see the TX Atty Gen) at what point is the door open to charges based on collusion / racketeering / corruption of govt officials / etc. ?

    • BURNTFUR

      because unlike the people in question, most of the rest of us care. That means that although we’ve waited long enough for these people to stop acting like a bunch of crybabies we also recognize that the transition into actual coherent thought is going to be a difficult one for them, so we excercise a bit more patience than they would ever have.

  • Eg Kbbs

    An AP article identified her legal counsel (article said the office’s legal counsel, but it doesn’t sound like a group that would represent a govt office).

    If you want fun, loo at http://www.lc.org Liberty Counsel: Restoring the Curlture ty Advancing Religious Freedom, the Sanctity of Human Life and the Family. Even has a tab for their online store. The About Us tab begins:

    Liberty Counsel® is an international nonprofit litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics. With offices in California, Florida, Virginia and Washington, D.C., and an outreach in Israel, Liberty Counsel has hundreds of advocates around the world.

    Recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization, this Christian ministry is funded by tax-deductible donations from concerned individuals, churches, businesses, foundations and other organizations.

  • MacDoodle

    This person obviously is offended by this perversion.

    • .
      Yes, @MaCDoodle:disqus, anyone who voluntarily takes a job and reneges on their promise to serve all customers equally is perverted in the extreme, especially someone taking their equal fellow taxpayer’s money to pay for those very services they are suddenly denying.
      .

  • noah vail

    “Irony is lost on conservatives.”…irony? hell even basic common sense and human decency are lost on them

  • Frank LaDonna

    Can a person who is refused, trying to get a license, go behind the counter and retrieve the paperwork themselves?

  • Ken Campbell

    Next we shall have a Jewish worker get a job at Safeway and refuse to handle pork or shellfish