County Clerks Claim Religious Freedom To Refuse Gay Marriage Licenses

| by Michael Allen

Several Christian conservatives and Republicans urged Americans not to recognize the U.S. Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling on June 26, which made same-sex marriage the law of the land.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a statement on June 27 that said county clerks in Texas could deny gay couples marriage licenses if such an action would contradict their "sincerely held religious beliefs," reported

Hood County, Texas, clerk Katie Lang said on June 29 she would not process any gay marriage licenses in her county based on her Christian beliefs.

"Morally, this is, this is wrong," Lang told WFAA.

"The truth is that it is in the Bible that marriage is between one man and one woman," Lang added.

Lang didn't mention denying marriage licenses to people who have been divorced, even though the Bible has strict guidelines about who can remarry.

"So, you can go other places, so it's not that I'm restricting anyone from getting a marriage license," Lang added.

The supremacy clause in the U.S. Constitution gives federal courts and law authority over state and local governments.

Kelly Shackelford, of the Christian-based Liberty Institute, says she will defend Lang if she gets in legal trouble.

"If somebody has a religious objection to performing a duty and somebody else can perform that duty, and everything can get done, that's what the law requires," Shackelford stated.

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, several county clerks in Kentucky are refusing to issue marriage licenses to anyone, in defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis claimed her Christian beliefs would not allow her to work on gay marriage licenses.

Davis referred to five U.S. Supreme Court justices as "five lawyers" who "have imposed their personal view of what the definition of marriage should be on the rest of us. And I, as a Christian, have strong views, too. And I know I don't stand alone."

Lawrence County in Kentucky has also stopped issuing marriage licenses, according to clerk Chris Jobe, who is also president of the Kentucky County Clerks Association.

Kentucky's Casey and Montgomery county clerks have also stopped issuing marriage licenses, reports

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, said on June 29 he expects county clerks "to execute the duties of their offices as prescribed by law and to issue marriage licenses to all Kentuckians."

Denton, Texas, County Clerk Juli Luke refused to give marriage licenses to two gay couples on June 26, reported the Denton Record-Chronicle.

Luke said she had to get legal advice from the district attorney and, later, claimed the county needed new software to do the marriage licenses.

Denton County District Attorney Paul Johnson said the gay marriage license was a decision for the clerk's office to make.

On June 29, Luke gave a third reason why she opposed issuing same-sex marriage licenses, but agreed to do so anyway, noted NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.

Luke said in a statement:

"Same-sex marriage is in contradiction to my faith and belief that marriage is between one man and one woman. However, first and foremost, I took an oath on my family Bible to uphold the law as an elected public official. My personal belief cannot prevent me from issuing the licenses as required."

Sources:, Denton Record-Chronicle, NBC Dallas-Fort Worth, WFAA, Lexington Herald-Leader
Image Credit: WFAA Screenshot