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Thread: Kentucky Clerk Denies Marriage License to Gay Couple

  1. #1

    Kentucky Clerk Denies Marriage License to Gay Couple





    MOREHEAD, Ky. — Defying the Supreme Court and saying she was acting “under God’s authority,” a county clerk in Kentucky denied marriage licenses to gay couples on Tuesday, less than a day after the court rejected her request for a delay.


    A raucous scene unfolded shortly after 8 a.m. at the Rowan County Courthouse here as two same-sex couples walked into the county clerk’s office, followed by a throng of journalists and chanting protesters on both sides of the issue. One couple, David Ermold and David Moore, tried to engage the county clerk, Kim Davis, in a debate before the cameras, but as she had before, she turned them away, saying repeatedly that she would not issue licenses to any couples, gay or straight.


    “Under whose authority?” Mr. Ermold asked.


    “Under God’s authority,” Ms. Davis replied.


    Ms. Davis says same-sex marriage violates her Christian beliefs. She took office in January, succeeding her mother, who had been the county clerk for 37 years.


    Her case stands as the most conspicuous official resistance remaining to the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in June legalizing same-sex marriage, and it is one of a number of legal challenges centering on the obligations of public officials and private businesses who say same-sex marriage conflicts with their religious faith.

    Some other local officials still refuse to issue marriage licenses, including probate judges in 11 Alabama counties. But most such challenges have faded, as officials who previously refused licenses to same-sex couples have reversed course.


    Ms. Davis has been cheered by religious conservatives from around the country, though legal experts say she has almost no chance of prevailing. On Tuesday, lawyers for same-sex couples asked Judge David L. Bunning of Federal District Court to hold her in contempt and fine her, and a hearing on that motion was set for Thursday in District Court in Ashland. The lawyers did not ask for jail time, which the judge could also impose.


    Ms. Davis said in a statement released by her lawyers that she had received death threats, but that she would neither resign nor relent.


    “To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience,” she said. She added: “I have no animosity toward anyone and harbor no ill will. To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God’s word.”


    Her defiance presented the state and courts with a conundrum, since she is an elected official and not easily removed. The State Legislature, where each party controls one chamber, could impeach her, but that is considered unlikely in this conservative state.


    Officials have said it might be possible to charge her with official misconduct, a misdemeanor; a conviction could result in a court order removing her. The county attorney has declined to take up the question, referring it to the state’s attorney general, Jack Conway, a Democrat who is running for governor. His office has said it is looking into the matter.


    Ms. Davis stopped issuing all marriage licenses after the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 ruling in June, in the case Obergefell v. Hodges.


    On Monday, a stay granted by Judge Bunning expired, and the Supreme Court rejected without comment Ms. Davis’s emergency application for a new stay pending the outcome of her appeal. That left her no legal grounds to refuse to grant licenses to same-sex couples.


    “There’s no doubt about how this saga comes to an end,” said Ronald J. Krotoszynski Jr., a constitutional law expert at the University of Alabama who has followed same-sex marriage cases. “The couples in Rowan County who seek marriage licenses will have them.”


    Tuesday’s courthouse showdown threw a rare spotlight on this rural patch of eastern Kentucky, much of it contained within the Daniel Boone National Forest. The county has fewer than 24,000 residents; Morehead, the largest city, has fewer than 7,000.


    Continue reading the main story


    What’s Next for Kentucky Clerk Who Refuses to Issue Licenses for Gay Marriage
    Ms. Davis at first remained in her office with the blinds drawn. A deputy clerk told the first couple through the door, April Miller and Karen Roberts, making their third attempt to get a license, that none would be issued Tuesday.


    “We were hopeful that we would get a license this morning, but we also understood that she has taken a pretty strong stand, so it was not a surprise,” Ms. Miller said.


    “Every time we go in there and we’re denied a license, it’s rejection, it’s marginalization,” she said. “We feel ostracized. We feel defeated. But we know that this is a liberty that we have been granted, and we’re going to keep fighting for that civil right.”


    When Mr. Moore and Mr. Ermold were turned down, they shouted for Ms. Davis to come out and face them, and she emerged and talked with them briefly before returning to her office. Citing the latest Supreme Court action, Mr. Moore said he would remain in the office until he and Mr. Ermold had a license.


    “Then you’re going to have a long day,” Ms. Davis replied. She said she had refused to issue any licenses in order not to discriminate against a particular group.


    Ms. Davis has some allies among other clerks, including Casey Davis of Casey County, southwest of Lexington. Mr. Davis said Tuesday that he had “not tried to prevent” same-sex marriages but was only acting on his First Amendment rights.


    “There was a lot of people that died for that right, and I think we should be able to exercise it,” Mr. Davis told CNN. He said same-sex couples could seek marriage licenses elsewhere in the state. In addition to those in Rowan and Casey Counties, the governor said, another of the state’s 120 clerks is not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.


    But Ms. Miller said it was important to force Ms. Davis to comply with the court rulings, rather than simply go elsewhere for a license. “It would set a dangerous precedent to let it go,” she said.


    In a statement, Governor Beshear said, “The future of the Rowan County clerk is now in the hands of the courts,” adding that he had no legal authority to intervene.


    “There are obviously strong feelings on both sides of this issue, but the United States Supreme Court has spoken, and same-sex marriage is now legal in Kentucky and the rest of the United States,” Mr. Beshear, a Democrat, said.


    Some lawmakers have discussed the possibility of changes to state law to address the issue, but Mr. Beshear, who is not running for re-election, said again that he would not call a special legislative session, so any action would have to wait until next year.


    By midday Tuesday, the county clerk’s office here was mostly empty, but demonstrators faced each other across a plaza outside the white-columned courthouse.


    On one side, Ms. Davis’s supporters held signs with messages including: “Don’t give up. The answer’s on the way.” The clerk’s critics raised their own, equally blunt placards with the declarations: “Small town, not small mind,” and “You don’t own marriage.”


    Flavis McKinney, 72, said he had come to the courthouse “to stand up for God and his word, and to stand up for our clerk.”


    “I’ve raised five children, 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren,” said Mr. McKinney, who is retired. “Been married 52 years to the same wife, and God has blessed us because we’ve done it God’s way, not man’s way. We’ve obeyed God.”


    But Ms. Davis’s critics, many of whom appeared to be in their 20s and 30s, argued that she personified a dated approach to marriage.


    “It really just blows my mind that people can be so closed-minded,” said Shaina Cercone, 22, a student at nearby Morehead State University. “We’re out here trying to support love. Christianity supposedly supports love in all ways, so it seems kind of contradictory that they’re out here, I guess, discriminating.”


    She added: “It’s 2015. Times have changed, and I think everyone that’s an American citizen needs to realize that.”


    Ms. Davis’s supporters, including Mr. McKinney, said they were frustrated by the legal system that had produced the standoff.


    “Every court system that she’s had to go before is a rigged court,” he said. “If she should be fined or jailed, either one, I think it could be one of the most disgraceful things that ever happened in this county.”


    But he also said he was confident that with God’s help, Ms. Davis would prevail.

    “He delivered Daniel from the lion’s den,” Mr. McKinney said. “So I trust he will deliver her.”


    Ms. Miller said she felt no animosity toward Ms. Davis, though they had become adversaries.


    “She’s standing up for her beliefs, as we’re standing up for our beliefs, and we understand how hard that is,” Ms. Miller said. “But we also believe that we do have the right to get married and that as a clerk in a county government office, she should be issuing the license. It’s her job.”

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  3. #2
    This chick needs to lose her job, which she is not doing. I understand her belief's and that is all fine and dandy, but she doesn't work for God, she works for the people of the county and those people are not getting the service they pay for.

  4. #3
    Adventurer at Large! BruteForce's Avatar
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    These guys drive or fly down from Ohio to get a marriage license in Kentucky? Stir-the-pot much do they?

    This whole LGBT is so one-sided. If you don't support it, then you're obviously a bigot. It would seem all this dialogue is one sided. If you're not in the LGBT camp, you're obviously a bigot with hatred in your heart. Seems there's zero tolerance for the religious perspective. Hmm..
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  5. #4
    I don't think that's the case at all. Her religion is not being told to perform gay marriage or to recognize the marriage as valid within her religion. She's welcome to speak on her own time about how she feels it's an abomination.,

    However, her job as an elected official and under the oath she swore to uphold the laws of the land, doesn't give her the privilege of ignoring the law for her religious views. She can step down and maintain her religious purity or go to jail and maintain her religious views. She's already been held in comtempt of court for her actions and jail will follow.

    What she can't do is use her elected position to force her religious views on others by failing to do her sworn duty.

  6. #5
    Jail it is. It's what she earned.

  7. #6
    It's about time this circus came to a proper end.

    We don't get to pick and choose the laws we follow. If the people don't like a particular law our system is built so the law can be changed.

  8. #7

  9. #8
    If she refuses to do her job (even if it is being a judge), shouldn't she just get fired, not thrown into jail?

  10. #9
    Elected positions can't be fired in general. A higher official often demands their resignation, but I don't think they can be fired in that case either. They can be impeached or otherwise shamed into resigning office as with Swallow or even Buttars was shamed out of running again.

    Or if enough people in the electing region sign a petition most states allow for a recall election.

  11. #10
    She might be in trouble in jail...


  12. #11
    Adventurer at Large! BruteForce's Avatar
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    So, as to this specific discussion, I do agree that as an elected official, she is in error and needs to uphold her duty to the law and her constituents. But, for the broader discussion -- these guys were trolling and looking to start a fight, and of late, it's always so very one-sided. We've become so politically correct, afraid to offend and myopic these past few years. Lack of tolerance is a wide and long two-way street.
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  13. #12
    I wonder what it means for Utah's law that gives religious exemption in these situations as long as someone else in the office is willing to do it. Her attorneys argued for that and also for fines rather than jail time. I think they were trying to set precedent knowing they would lose on straight legal grounds. This is similar to how the interracial marriage law played out after it was upheld at SCOTUS. There were many who made claims of religious exemption, but they didn't stand against the courts on that very well.

    Now Kentucky is a different Circuit, but where her appeal was rejected by SCOTUS, I'm not sure if it applies here?

  14. #13
    As to the guys trolling. They might be. But people like to get married where they like to get married and we've not looked down on that historically. It's part of why there's the full faith and credit clause in the constitution. Maybe they have a family history there, or like a particular resort in that county for the ceremony. Who knows?

  15. #14
    I don't consider it trolling when you force someone to do their job.

    More like the dumb bitch was seeking her 15 minutes of fame.

    YMMV

  16. #15
    I have read on other sites that she was offered the option of letting others in the office issue the licenses and avoid jail (my understanding is that the judge offered her the option), but she turned it down.

    I've also read that the judge declined to fine her because the fines would have been covered by her supporters, so it wouldn't have been any burden to her.
    Deb

  17. #16
    Adventurer at Large! BruteForce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iceaxe View Post
    I don't consider it trolling when you force someone to do their job.

    More like the dumb bitch was seeking her 15 minutes of fame.

    YMMV
    Wow. Didn't see that coming from you. I am fairly certain she didn't want this sudden "fame" and was just trying to maintain her religious identity, whereas these trolls were looking to make a stink as many LGBT'ers are doing. So, what have I learned in the last 6 or so years. If you're white, a veteran, a police officer or Christian, its totally okay to threaten you, berate you and/or trash your background or ideology. This is NOT the America I fought for. This is NOT the America I want to continue to live in. I have been a fierce and loyal patriot of America, but it seems that this mental disorder of liberalism is something that is now growing beyond control and my family and I are now seriously thinking about relocating OCONUS.
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  18. #17
    If the dumb bitch doesn't want to issue licenses I'm cool with that. But she would not allow the clerks to issue licenses. She's now sitting right where she belongs.

  19. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by BruteForce View Post
    Wow. Didn't see that coming from you. I am fairly certain she didn't want this sudden "fame" and was just trying to maintain her religious identity, whereas these trolls were looking to make a stink as many LGBT'ers are doing. So, what have I learned in the last 6 or so years. If you're white, a veteran, a police officer or Christian, its totally okay to threaten you, berate you and/or trash your background or ideology. This is NOT the America I fought for. This is NOT the America I want to continue to live in. I have been a fierce and loyal patriot of America, but it seems that this mental disorder of liberalism is something that is now growing beyond control and my family and I are now seriously thinking about relocating OCONUS.
    What if she denied the licenses because she is Muslim? Would you still defend her then?

    The law says she must issue a marriage license to those who qualify for them. The SCOTUS has declared that gay people qualify for marriage licenses. She didn't issue the licenses so she broke the law and was given a chance to correct herself which she did not and was found in contempt of court. She dug the hole she's in.

    As far as her right to freedom of religion goes, her rights end where the rights of others begin.

  20. #19
    Who in their right mind would want to get married in the first place? For cryin' out loud, I sure miss the days when the weirdos kept their heads down.
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  21. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by twotimer View Post
    Who in their right mind would want to get married in the first place?
    Gay people deserve the right to be miserable just like the rest of us.


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