Appeal courts upholds ruling on issuing same-sex marriage licenses in Kentucky

27 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

6th Circuit Orders Anti-Gay Clerk to Begin Issuing Marriage Licenses Immediately.

A federal appeals court in Kentucky on Wednesday affirmed a ruling ordering a county clerk who objects to same-sex marriage on religious grounds to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.On Wednesday, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to stay a lower court’s decision ordering Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk, to resume granting marriage licenses.

Kim Davis, the clerk in Rowan County, about 60 miles east of Lexington, has refused to issue any marriage licenses since the justices’ June decision, saying that her Christian faith bars her from authorizing same-sex marriages. Judges found that “it cannot be defensibly argued that the holder of the Rowan County Clerk’s Office, apart from who personally occupies that office, may decline to act in conformity with the United States Constitution,” especially after a U.S. A US district judge ordered Davis to issue the marriage licenses, but later delayed his order so that Davis could have time to appeal to the sixth circuit.

Hodges, in which the Supreme Court held that bans on same-sex marriage violated the due process clause of the Constitution and the equal protection clause in the 14th Amendment. Several same-sex couples sued, but Davis insisted that the state was violating her rights to free speech and free exercise of religion by forcing her to grant licenses to gay people. They said that Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, whose office is in Moorehead, Ky., had little or no likelihood of prevailing on appeal in her official capacity.

Citing personal religious objections against gay marriage, Davis has denied licenses to all couples following the June Supreme Court ruling that cleared the way for same-sex marriage nationwide. In testimony last month in federal court in Covington, Ky., Davis described herself as an Apostolic Christian who believes marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman under the Bible — “God’s holy word” — and said she contemplated her policy for months. The American Civil Liberties Union had sued her on behalf of two same-sex couples and two opposite-sex couples, alleging that Davis violated their constitutional rights when refusing to issue licenses.

District Judge David Bunning granted a preliminary injunction against Davis this month, finding that her religious convictions do not excuse her from performing official duties and upholding her oath of office. The Liberty Counsel, a religious freedom organization representing Davis, plans to request a stay from Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan as early as Thursday. Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the group, said lawyers also will seek clarification from the District Court on whether Davis must personally issue licenses or if someone else in her office can perform the task.

Davis herself, and one would think that this would educate her on a core tenet of democracy, which is that politicians cannot govern according to their religious beliefs,” he said. He said he didn’t know if Davis would resume providing the forms Thursday but called it “disturbing” that the appellate judges cast doubt on her appeal. “It suggests that individuals within a government agency don’t have any independent constitutional rights,” he said. “They don’t lose their constitutional or statutory rights by virtue of working in a public office.” Davis has argued that signing off on the forms amounts to condoning same-sex marriage and that her objections are protected under the First Amendment and Kentucky’s religious freedom law.

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