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Clerks Who Refuse To Issue Marriage Licenses in Tennessee–Since When Is It A Constitutional Right To Talk About Sexual Preferences At Work??

July 21, 2015

Clerks in the South have been having trouble

In Tennessee on Thursday, the Decatur County clerk and two employees in the clerk’s office resigned due to their opposition to same-sex marriage, County Commissioner David Boroughs told The Jackson Sun ( ).

In Alabama, however, one of the states where numerous clerks were refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, all counties appeared to be complying with the Supreme Court ruling as of Thursday, lawyers representing gay couples said.

In Louisiana, where most parish clerks had been issuing same-sex marriage licenses since Monday, the state Office of Vital Records, which issues the licenses in New Orleans, didn’t begin doing so until Thursday.

Immediately following the Supreme Court ruling last Friday, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshearordered all clerks to fall in line. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway followed up with a warning that failing to do so might open them up to civil liability.


Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says that clerks can refuse to issue marriage licenses but can expect to be sued:

County clerks can refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on religious objections to gay marriage, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Sunday.

Paxton noted that clerks who refuse to issue licenses can expect to be sued, but added that “numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs,” in many cases without charge.

Kentucky clerk Casey Davis, also a pastor, has refused the Kentucky Governor’s mandate that he conform to the ruling of the Federal Supreme Court and issue marriage licenses:

Earlier today, Casey Davis left a one-on-one meeting with the Governor of Kentucky, DemocratSteve Beshear, who ordered 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.

“I’m going to trust the Lord with all my heart,” Davis, who also happens to be a pastor, told reporters when he explained he would not change his position, nor resign. Davis then appeared to quote the Bible, and added, “my position remains.”

Kim Davis, who has been sued by the ACLU on behalf of those denied marriage licenses, says she can’t sign a license because of her religious beliefs, and the idea of a separation of church and state eludes her:

Davis told the court she’s an apostolic Christian and her religion says that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. She says her right to freedom of religion affords her the ability to deny same-sex licenses because she believes the wording on the certificate means she’s authorizing the license. Davis said that is something she can’t do.

“If I authorize it, I’m saying I agree with it. I can’t do that,” she said.

An attorney representing the couples who are suing Davis asked her how far a clerk could take their religious beliefs when it comes to denying licenses.

He asked, for example, whether a clerk could refuse a license if they did not believe interracial marriage was biblical. He also asked whether a clerk could deny a license to someone who wanted to get remarried after a divorce.

Davis said she couldn’t speak for anyone else and didn’t answer any hypothetical questions.

The attorney asked Davis who had the final say when it came to what the Constitution says. Davis replied that she didn’t know.

After the hearing, the plaintiff’s attorney, Dan Canon, said that Davis’ explanation was unworkable.

“If you apply her conception of the discretion that a county clerk has in office to its logical conclusion, the simple fact of the matter is that anybody can deny anybody a marriage license anytime they want to based on their own personal religious beliefs. That policy, quite frankly, if applied statewide, would be chaos,” he said.

It’s a strange concept to say that acting in an official government capacity entails acting out one’s own religious beliefs. I don’t think most people who work for the government look to fulfill their religious duties through their governmental job, so the concept of using a government job to champion religious beliefs is alien. In my own opinion, part of working for someone else is that you are working for someone else, ergo, your job can’t be used to project your own viewpoint, religious or otherwise, particularly when it comes to sexual preferences. Most workers don’t expect to verbalize ever sexual concept that they have a work–that is considered sexual harassment. So, why do clerks, in particular, clerks in Kentucky, feel that it’s acceptable to broadcast their own sexual peccadillo  at work? Or on national television as part of their job? Who knows? It’s Kentucky, nuff said.


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