Kentucky County Clerk Should Issue Marriage Licenses To Same-Sex Couples, Appeals Court Says
Following a Kentucky county clerk’s request to stay a judge’s order citing a violation of her religious beliefs, a U.S. Appeals court denied her request and ruled that she should issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June that legalized same-sex marriages nationwide, the appeals court ruled that Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ office was wrong in not complying with the U.S. constitution.
“There is thus little or no likelihood that the clerk in her official capacity will prevail on appeal,” the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said, as reported by Reuters.
Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples citing religious reasons. She said that she is an Apostolic Christian who believes that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, according to the Bible. She further said that her deniability to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling was protected by the First Amendment and Kentucky’s religious freedom law.
According to USA Today, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the county clerk, accusing her of violating the rights of two same-sex couples and two opposite-sex couples by denying them marriage licenses.
The couples claimed that as they live, work and pay taxes in Rowan County – which lies halfway between Lexington, Kentucky, and Huntington, West Virginia – they should not have to go somewhere else to get the paperwork if they want to get married. The same sentiment was expressed by Dan Canon, a lawyer who is representing the couples.
“It’s not terribly surprising,” Canon said regarding Wednesday’s ruling of the appeals court. “It’s correct and yet another reaffirmation that clerks have to abide by the rule of law just like everybody else.”
Mat Staver, chairman and founder of Florida-based Liberty Counsel representing Davis, said that they would approach the Supreme Court for a stay. He said that Wednesday’s ruling was disappointing.
“It suggests that a government official doesn’t have any independent constitutional rights,” Staver said.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear had ordered all of the state’s 120 county clerks to issue licenses following the Supreme Court’s ruling of legalizing gay marriages in June, as reported by Newsweek.
Davis, however, is not the only clerk who denied the orders, saying that it was against her religious beliefs. Certain county officials in Southern states have resigned from their posts rather than issue licenses – these include Cleburne County Clerk Dana Guffey in Heber Springs, Ark.; Decatur County Clerk Gwen Pope and two others in Decaturville, Tenn.; and Rusk County Clerk Joyce Lewis-Kugle in Henderson, Texas.
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