The Liberty Counsel, a Christian law firm, is reportedly telling the Rowan County Clerk's Office in Kentucky not to issue marriage licenses, and the employees are obeying the law firm instead of a federal judge's order.
According to The Associated Press, four couples — two heterosexual, two same-sex — entered the county clerk's office on Aug. 13 with a federal judge's court order that compelled the office to issue them marriage licenses, but the six employees refused to do so and gave one couple the phone number of the Liberty Counsel instead.
The office is headed by County Clerk Kim Davis, who has refused to issue marriage licenses because she claims her deeply held religious beliefs oppose gay marriage. Marriage for all couples became the law of the land in June based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning ruled on Aug. 12 that Davis is “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,” notes The New York Times.
Davis was on vacation on Aug. 12.
Deputy Clerk Nathan Davis told AP the clerk's office was following the advice of the Liberty Counsel to not issue marriage licenses because the Liberty Counsel is appealing the federal judge's decision.
The Liberty Counsel is based in Virginia and has no legal authority over government offices in Kentucky, but the six employees authorized to issue licenses in the Rowan County Clerk's Office are reportedly obeying the law firm.
Karen Roberts and April Miller were one of the same-sex couples who were denied a marriage license on Aug. 13, despite the federal judge's order.
"We're going to keep coming back," Roberts told AP. "We're going to fight this to the very end."
Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver stated:
"Kim Davis is just an example of what's going to be happening not only to other clerks but to other people who are going to be confronted with this issue and we think that this is a serious matter that needs to be decided by a higher court, even the Supreme Court."
Katherine Franke of Columbia Law School told The New York Times earlier this week: "Her case will go nowhere ... she doesn’t get to pick and choose which of her duties she will perform.”