Watch this Kentucky county clerk illegally deny same-sex couple a marriage license

It is now illegal for a state to deny same-sex couples the right to marry, but that hasn’t yet sunk in with many of the people responsible for issuing marriage licenses. In a fit of bureaucratic discretion, clerks in states ranging from Texas to Alabama, have shut down their entire marriage process rather than grant legal recognition to a single same-sex couple that wants to exercise their new right.

Kentucky is on that list, as well. In a video posted to YouTube yesterday, David Moore and his partner attempted to obtain a marriage license in Rowan County, Kentucky, where they live, only to be told multiple times that they would have to go to another county in order to obtain it.

The county clerk’s office also called the cops in an attempt to get the couple’s friend to stop filming the exchange.

Here’s the video:

When the couple finally does get to talk to someone in the clerk’s office — after waiting for nearly ten minutes and seeing others jump ahead of them in line — they are told that the office is not issuing marriage licenses to anyone. As the woman they interact with explains, it’s “her choice” — referring to County Clerk Kim Davis — as to whether the office will provide marriage documents to any couple, gay or straight.

Kim Davis, screenshot via YouTube

Kim Davis, screenshot via YouTube

That’s simply incorrect, and the couple told her so. Kentucky’s Governor and Attorney General have both issued official statements saying that county clerks must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Not only do clerks face lawsuits for refusing to do so, they could face criminal charged for official misconduct. After all, by refusing to fully execute the laws of the State of Kentucky, they are willfully abdicating their responsibilities as public officials, who are notministers of God.”

The couple brought copies of both the Governor’s letter and the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v Hodges ruling in anticipation that they would be denied their license.

They were right to come prepared. The ACLU has already sued Kim Davis over earlier refusals to issue same-sex marriage licenses. In the press release announcing that lawsuit, ACLU of Kentucky’s Cooperating Attorney Laura Ladenwich said:

Ms. Davis has the absolute right to believe whatever she wants about God, faith, and religion, but as a government official who swore an oath to uphold the law, she cannot pick and choose who she is going to serve, or which duties her office will perform based on her religious beliefs.

These county-by-county refusals to issue marriage licenses aren’t as big as the Massive Resistance movement that followed Brown v Board of Education, in which anti-integration governments shut down entire public school systems rather than allow black students to be in the same classroom as white students, but they have a familiar theme: Government officials are stretching their bureaucratic discretion beyond what is allowed by law in order to reject the premise of a change in policy they don’t agree with personally.

It’s a story that’s been told before, and it doesn’t end well for the holdouts.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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18 Responses to “Watch this Kentucky county clerk illegally deny same-sex couple a marriage license”

  1. Michael C says:

    Can’t wait to see her taken down a peg or two !

  2. Butch1 says:

    Exactly so and she wouldn’t be talking back to those men. ;-)

  3. jjgrandisland says:

    And if this woman really stuck to biblical principles she would not have a job outside her home and furthermore the only opinion she would have would be that of her husband’s.

  4. Butch1 says:

    Agreed; she certainly is no “christian” with that hateful attitude. If she wants to review “traditional marriage in the bible” that would me she would become chattel and her “husband” could have as many wives as he could afford plus many concubines if he were rich. She would come with a dowry along with a few goats or a cow. If that is what she’s talking about then she had better rethink the definition over. Besides, Marriage has always been a contract with the government FIRST before the religionists ever stepped in and put their blessings on it with any kind of a service. Even today, one gets a license from the government of which SHE IS EMPLOYED and it is NOT A religious organization, so she cannot use her religion from doing her duties as a paid government worker.

  5. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    She’s been married four times. She’s so concerned with the sanctity of marriage that she does it over and over.

  6. jjgrandisland says:

    If this is what gets this buffoon through the day it is really sad. I think she should be sent packing.

  7. Butch1 says:

    She’ll make as much political hay off of this as she can and receive a bunch of “atta-girls” from her church no doubt.

  8. jjgrandisland says:

    I agree. I just wish she had a sense of self respect and resign her position. But no…she wants to continue to feed off the public trough. How incredibly sad.

  9. Butch1 says:

    They will love to play the victim again when she is sued and taken to court over this. I have a feeling she will acquiesce before that, but they should continue the law suit just to make sure she continues to behave herself after they are long gone and the next gay couple comes in requesting their license she doesn’t pull the very same thing.

  10. Butch1 says:

    Perhaps her church will hire her part-time as their “secretary” to answer the phone. Those people usually do it gratis, though. Maybe she should be an “at-home” mom. Don’t they believe in that? ;-)

  11. Butch1 says:

    This woman needs to lose her job and be sued for what she has done. The laws are on the gay couple’s side and she will find out soon enough that hiding her hate behind her bible and religion will not be enough anymore to keep her job. She is not a minister, she is a clerk NOT performing her duties.

  12. FLL says:

    I guess it’s down to this county clerk and another in rural West Texas. Christian clergy are employed by their respective denominations, so whether they officiate at same-sex weddings is up to them and their denominations. County clerks, in contrast, are employed by the local government, and evangelical Christianity is not the official religion of the U.S. because the First Amendment forbids the establishment of any religion by any level of government. I suppose a judge will have to explain that to any county clerk who wants to stage a publicity stunt. Or maybe I should ask if this Kentucky county clerk’s 15 minutes of fame are over… yet.

  13. BeccaM says:

    Freedom of religion is the right not to be fired from your job because you belong to a particular faith. It’s not the freedom to refuse to do your assigned job duties, especially when your refusal consists of denying the lawful civil rights of others.

    Anyway, we’re basically now in the lawsuits phase of the ongoing fight for marriage equality and freedom from discrimination. The ACLU and other groups are gonna be busy the next year or two, I think.

  14. Indigo says:

    Poor soul, she’s in the wrong business. But I imagine her fellow churchians are backing her up. I wonder if they’ll pay her legal fees once it gets into the court?

  15. MoonDragon says:

    Can you say “Quit and get another job”? Sure you can.

  16. grandpamike1 says:

    Come on Justice Department, get involved.

  17. jjgrandisland says:

    You know these gays…this is just all a “set up” to stomp all over the rights of this poor little Christian. (Sarcasm). I hope this public servant is pulled away from the “feed trough” and tossed out on the street. And since she willfully denied another’s civil rights her pension should withdrawn.

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