Religion

Kentucky Judge Refuses To Do Nonreligious Wedding

| by Michael Allen
Hollis AlexanderHollis Alexander

A couple planning to get married in Trigg County, Kentucky, on July 22 were reportedly told by a judge that he would not do their ceremony unless he could say the word "God."

According to the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), Mandy Heath and her fiance wanted a secular service, but County Judge Executive Hollis Alexander called Health and told her, "I include God in my ceremonies, and I won't do one without him."

Alexander referred Heath and her fiance to another judge in a different county.

The Friendly Atheist contacted Alexander who confirmed the incident and added that he will not marry same-sex couples either.

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In response to Alexander's actions, FFRF lawyer Andrew Seidel wrote him a letter on July 12 that read:

This refusal violates the U.S. Constitution. As a government official, you have an obligation to remain neutral on religious matters.

 ... As a government employee, you have a constitutional obligation to remain neutral on religious matters while acting in your official capacity. You have no right to impose your personal religious beliefs on people seeking to be married. Governments in this nation, including the Commonwealth of Kentucky, are secular. They do not have the power to impose religion on citizens.

The bottom line is that by law, there must be a secular option for people seeking to get married. In Trigg County, you are that secular option.

 ... We request written assurances that future wedding ceremonies you perform will be secular. If citizens wish to have religious ceremonies, they can amend the ceremony as they see fit or get married in a church.

There is no word on whether or not Alexander has responded to the FFRF's letter.

In September 2015, Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis was jailed for five days for contempt after refusing a court order to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

Davis appealed that contempt ruling and lost in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on July 13, reporters Reuters.

The U.S. federal appeals court refused to vacate the contempt ruling but did lift an injunction from August 2015 because Kentucky law has changed and Davis will not be required to put her name on a same-sex marriage license.

Davis' lawyer Mat Staver declared a "final victory" and added: "The injunctions are gone and Kim Davis received the accommodation that she requested. County clerks are no longer forced to compromise their religious liberty and conscience rights."

County clerks are not allowed to deny same-sex couples their marriage licenses which is what Davis did for weeks in defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court. Davis would not allow any of the deputy clerks in her office to issue gay marriage licenses until the courts intervened.

Sources: Friendly Atheist, FFRF (2), Reuters via Yahoo News / Photo Credit: Kentucky County Judge Executive Association

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