Religion

Kentucky County Clerk Defies Judge Over Gay Marriage

| by Reuters

A Kentucky county clerk’s office on Thursday defied a federal judge’s order by continuing to block marriage licenses for same-sex couples, saying the legal case was still pending.

Local media also reported that the Rowan County clerk's office turned away two same-sex couples who tried to get marriage licenses.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis is on vacation but Nathan Davis, a relative who also works at the clerk’s office, told Reuters the office was not currently taking licenses because of the active litigation. He declined further comment.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported David Moore and David Ermold tried but failed to get a marriage license on Thursday, while the Louisville Courier-Journal said James Yates and Will Smith also were unsuccessful. None of the men could immediately be reached to comment.

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Kim Davis stopped issuing all marriage licenses following the U.S. Supreme Court's June ruling legalizing gay marriage.

Shortly after the Supreme Court's landmark ruling, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear ordered the state's 120 county clerks to begin processing same-sex marriage licenses. A few, including Davis, decided to disregard it because of what they said was their Christian belief that marriage can be only between a man and a woman.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning issued a preliminary injunction on Wednesday ordering Davis' office to process license applications from all couples, saying she had to live up to her responsibilities as county clerk.

"Davis remains free to practice her Apostolic Christian beliefs," he wrote in his decision. "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."

Davis, an Apostolic Christian filed an appeal shortly after Wednesday's order and on Thursday sought to stay the injunction until an appellate court could render its decision.

"We’re taking it up to a higher court to do an expedited appeal," said Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, which is representing Davis’ office. "We’re going to wait and see what happens."

Staver said it was premature to discuss what would happen if the stay was denied, but Roger Gannam, also with Liberty Counsel, said on Wednesday: "She is resolute in protecting her rights."

(Reporting by Steve Bittenbender; Editing by Ben Klayman, Bill Trott and Susan Heavey) / Photo credit: Scott County Clerk