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Religious Tolerance logo

The U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage (aka gay
marriage) across the U.S. in its ruling of The Obergefell v. Hodges
case from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, & Tennessee.

Part 55:
Various comments about Clerk Davis' refusal to
issue marriage licenses in Rowan County, KY.
Reactions to gay marriage by Ms. Davis and
by other clerks throughout the U.S. states.
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We use the term "gay marriage."to represent the marriage of two persons of
the same sex. We prefer "Same-sex marriage," a more inclusive term that
includes spouses with a bisexual sexual orientation, but it would make this web
site harder to find because most search engines cannot handle synonyms.
"LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals.
"LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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Kentucky map showing Rowan County Comments on Clerk Davis's decision to discriminate against LGBT couples:

  • Rev. Emily C. Heath is a minister of the United Church of Christ. She posted a message at "The Blog" at Huffington Post." She was once faced with a situation similar to that experienced by Kim Davis. She had considered becoming a prison chaplain. But because of her Christian faith, she could not seek the job because to do so would require her to support the death penalty. She opposes executions on religious grounds. She wrote on her blog:

    "Religious liberty is guaranteed in this country. But that does not mean that every job needs to bend to your particular interpretation of your faith.

    So when someone is being asked to follow the law, and issue a marriage license, and they say they are being persecuted, I just don’t buy it. You are being no more persecuted than I was when I decided not to be a prison chaplain. We are both operating out of our sincere Christian convictions, after all.

    The job of someone issuing a government marriage license is to basically handle a piece of paperwork. In this case a piece of paperwork that says that two people will have their marriage legally, not even religiously, recognized.

    If you really believe doing your job is against your faith, then quitting would be an act of faith. Defying the law so two people you will never see again can't get married? Not so much.

    One of the most important teachings of Christ is that we must be willing to lose everything to follow him. Discipleship, as Bonhoeffer said, is costly. And sometimes it will cost us our jobs. If you really believe doing your job is violating your faith, then stepping aside would be a small price to pay for the love of the Gospel." 1

  • Glenn Beck was infuriated on AUG-14 when he heard that the Colorado Court of Appeals -- a state court -- had ordered that a business person -- a baker -- may not cite his religious beliefs when he refuses to fulfill a customer's request. He was asked to bake a wedding cake to be used after a marriage by a same-sex couple. This matter has many similarities to Clerk Davis' case.

Beck said on his radio program:

"What? I got news for you. To the death. To the death. You could do anything to me. If it goes against my religious beliefs, you’re going to have to kill me. ... You can’t force people to violate their conscience. What kind of country have we turned into? ... I’m trying to understand. I’m still in the United States of America, right? I can’t cite my constitutional right to the right of conscience? We’re in trouble. If this is allowed to stand, every bit of your constitutional right is gone."

Pat Gray, Beck's co-host, said that the five involved in a Colorado federal court gay marriage ruling should be removed from office. Beck responded:

"Why blame this on the judge [sic] when our own law schools no longer teach the Constitution? They teach progressive case law. They look to case law. They look to global case law. They don’t look to the Constitution anymore." 2

  • Donald Trump said that opposition to marriage equality is a dead issue. Trump currently leads the pack of presidential contenders for the 2016 election. Like Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, he is a great supporter of marriage. Both have been married three or four times to date.

During an interview by Hollywood Reporter he mentioned that he had attended the wedding of Broadway theater owner, Jordan Roth to a same-sex partner. He was asked if marriage equality is "a dead issue" for the Republican Party. He replied:

"Some people have hopes of passing amendments, but it’s not going to happen. Congress can’t pass simple things, let alone that. So anybody that’s making that an issue is doing it for political reasons. The Supreme Court ruled on it." 3

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2015-SEP: Reactions to the U.S. Supreme Court in "Obergefell" by county clerks in the U.S:

On 2015-JUN-26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples must be able to marry if they meet the usual age and genetic closeness requirements that all couples must meet in order to marry. Clerk Kim Davis in Rowan County, KY refused at first to marry a same-sex couple. Since then, she has consistently refused to issue marriage licenses to all couples. She cites personal, deeply held, religious reasons.

Like many other conservative Christians, she interprets the six or so "clobber passages" in the Bible that have been historically used to condemn same-gender sexual activity as also condemning same-sex marriage.

Religious liberals and secularists generally believe that the Bible is silent on same-sex marriage. They interpret these same passages as referring to same-sex rape; same-gender sex with Pagan temple prostitutes; two men having sex on a woman's bed; sexual abuse by men of children; same-gender sex during Pagan orgies by heterosexuals, which would be against their basic nature, etc.

Davis also believes that when she authorizes a marriage license, she is not simply verifying that the couple is legally qualified to marry. She believes that she is also indicating her approval of their subsequent marriage. That, she feels would violate her deeply held anti-LGBT religious beliefs.

Many of the thousands of other County Clerks in the U.S. have had similar beliefs. However:

  • Most clerks honored their Oath of Office which requires them to follow the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court. They issued licenses to all qualified couples.

  • Some clerks resigned because they felt they could not honor their Oath of Office.

  • Most of the remainder found a way to accommodate their religious beliefs by arranging to have other employees in their office issue all licenses requested by same-sex couples.

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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Emily C. Heath, "Religious liberty, marriage licenses, and the cost of discipleship," 2015-AUG-13, at:
  2. Erica Ritz, "Colo. Ruling About Religious Liberty Has Beck Demanding ?What Kind of Country Have We Turned Into?’," The Blaze, 2015-AUG-14, at: (Article includes video of Beck's meltdown).
  3. Nick Duffy, "Donald Trump admits opposing equal marriage is ?dead issue’," Pink News, 2015-AUG-20, at:

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How you may have arrived here:

Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2015-SEP-06
Latest update: 2015-SEP-06
Author: B.A. Robinson
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