Three Kentucky county clerks who are refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples drew thunderous cheers from a crowd gathered at the state capitol on Saturday.
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis spoke briefly at the rally organized by The Family Foundation of Kentucky, appearing emotional as she thanked supporters.
“I need your prayers … to continue to stand firm in what we believe,” she said to cheers.
Davis has been sued by The American Civil Liberties Union for denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She says her Christian faith prohibits her from signing the licenses. A federal judge has ruled Davis must issue the licenses, but her attorneys are appealing the decision.
A crowd of a few thousand, many of them churchgoers from around the state, filled the lawn in the rear of the capitol building, many carrying signs saying “Freedom of religion” and waving American flags.
The three clerks, Davis, Kay Schwartz of Whitley County and Casey Davis from Casey County, halted all marriage licenses from their offices after the Supreme Court ruling in June that legalized same-sex marriage.
Watch Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis address the crowd below.
The couple, James Yates and William Smith Jr., joined three other couples (two of which are straight) in suing Kim Davis after she stopped issuing all marriage licenses after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide earlier this year.
Davis claims her religious beliefs will be violated if she issues same-sex couples marriage licenses.
In Thursday’s ruling, U.S. District Judge David Bunning wrote that Davis “is refusing to recognize the legal force of U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence in performing her duties” and her “religious convictions cannot excuse her from performing the duties that she took an oath to perform as Rowan County Clerk.”
As the couple mention in the video, although the county clerk’s lawyers are appealing the ruling by Judge Bunning, there is no stay on the ruling making it law until some court of authority issues a stay.
This is a losing battle for Davis and her office. It will give me great pleasure to watch video of the members of that office HAVE to issue this marriage license in the near future.
Watch below as Yates and Smith try for a second time, and are denied again, a marriage license.
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, of Kentucky, was ordered today by a federal judge to resume issuing marriage licenses – including to same-sex couples – despite her religious objection to same-sex marriage.
U.S. District Judge David Bunning granted a preliminary injunction against Davis that was requested by Rowan County couples who want marriage licenses. Davis has refused to issue marriage licenses in her county since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in June.
Davis is bound by her duties as a public servant to obey the law, Bunning wrote.
“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,” Bunning wrote.
Late Tuesday, Davis filed a lawsuit against Beshear in federal district court. She blamed the governor for instructing all 120 of the state’s county clerks to comply with this summer’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage.
Beshear’s stance left dissenting county clerks vulnerable to lawsuits, including two that she currently faces, filed by groups of her constituents, Davis said. U.S. District Judge David Bunning is expected to rule in these cases in coming days.
“The Commonwealth of Kentucky, acting through Governor Beshear, has deprived Davis of her religious-conscience rights guaranteed by the United States and Kentucky constitutions and laws, by insisting that Davis issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples contrary to her conscience, based on her sincerely held religious beliefs,” Davis’ lawsuit says.
Also named in the lawsuit is the head of the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, which changed the marriage license forms to gender-neutral.
Speaking at a press conference today, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear made clear his position regarding county clerks who refuse to marry same-sex couples: be prepared to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples or resign.
“When you voluntarily decide to run for office, and you win, and you raise your hand and you take the oath to uphold the Constitutions of the United States… that oath doesn’t say ‘I will uphold the parts of the Constitution that I agree with and won’t with the parts I don’t agree with.’”
“You can continue to have your own personal beliefs but, you’re also taking an oath to fulfill the duties prescribed by law, and if you are at that point to where your personal convictions tell you that you simply cannot fulfill your duties that you were elected to do, than obviously an honorable course to take is to resign and let someone else step-in who feels that they can fulfill those duties.”
Earlier today, Casey County Clerk Casey Davis left a one-on-one meeting with the Governor of Kentucky, Democrat Steve Beshear, who advised the county clerk to do his job, issue marriage licenses to all couples regardless of gender – or resign.
Davis says he is refusing to issue licenses to same-sex couples, and is refusing to resign.
Governor Beshear has issued this statement regarding the meeting:
This morning, I advised Mr. Davis that I respect his right to his own personal beliefs regarding same-sex marriages.
However, when he was elected, he took a constitutional oath to uphold the United States Constitution. According to the United States Supreme Court, the Constitution now requires that governmental officials in Kentucky and elsewhere must recognize same-sex marriages as valid and allow them to take place. One of Mr. Davis’ duties as county court clerk is to issue marriage licenses, and the Supreme Court now says that the United States Constitution requires those marriage licenses to be issued regardless of gender. Mr. Davis’ own county attorney has advised him that his oath requires him to do so.
Davis has also asked that same-sex couples be allowed to obtain their marriage licenses online so he doesn’t have to deal with them.
A group of county clerks has asked the governor to call a special session of the state legislature to address the issue of same-sex marriage.
Gov. Bashear has already said he has no plans to spend hundred of thousands of tax payer dollars on a special session about what is now settled law.