Court Rules Clerk Must Issue Licenses for Same-Sex Marriages

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.

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. To justify keeping the district court’s ruling on hold, Davis would have to prove that she has “a strong likelihood of success on the merits.” But, the court held, “in light of the binding holding of Obergefell, it cannot be defensibly argued” that Davis “may decline to act in conformity with the United States Constitution as interpreted by a dispositive holding of the United States Supreme Court.

There is thus little or no likelihood” that Davis “in her official capacity will prevail on appeal.” To justify its holding, the court cited a string of cases that held that “where a public employee’s speech is made pursuant to his duties, ‘the relevant speaker [is] the government entity, not the individual.’ ” That’s exactly right, of course: By taking a job with the government, Davis became a public employee required to serve the whole public. Davis was filed by the state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of four couples: April Miller and Karen Roberts, Shantel Burke and Stephen Napier, Jody Fernandez and Kevin Holloway, and L. 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. On Saturday, she spoke to thousands of supporters at a religious freedom rally at the state capitol, saying: “I need your prayers … to continue to stand firm in what we believe.” Miller and Roberts said they know the legal fight will stretch on.

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