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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 68:
2015-SEP-21 to NOV-01:

What types of discrimination by county clerks
would be justified by Pope Francis' criteria?
Two polls compare couples' civil rights with
county clerks' religious freedom to discriminate.
Current status of gay marriage in the U.S.
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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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2015-OCT-05: What types of discrimination would be justified by the Pope's comments? (Continued):

  • A couple which includes a divorced Roman Catholic who has not received an annulment of their previous marriage. That Church consider a marriage to be eternal unless it can be determined by a church court that the marriage was not validly entered into, and an annulment has been granted.

  • A couple of different religions, or different denominations within the same religion: Some faith groups prohibit such marriages. The Roman Catholic Church requires a Catholic engaged person to receive a dispensation for mixed marriages before being married to a person of a different faith. In a particularly intolerant passage, Paul forbade such marriages and rejected all non-Christian faiths as lawless and Satanic:

    2 Corinthians 6:14-15: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?"

  • All couples that include an "unbeliever: In the next verse, Paul writes that Christians should have no contact with unbelievers. Thus, a Christian clerk might be inclined to have no dealings at all with non-Christian marriage license applicants:

    2 Corinthians 6:16: "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing ..."

  • Couples that include a transgender person or transsexual: Many conservative faith groups consider transgender persons and transsexuals as having a gender that is unchanged from their birth-identified gender. Some clerks might consider such individuals wearing clothing typical of the gender with which they identify is a violation of the following Bible verse:

    Deuteronomy 22:5: "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God."

    The Hebrew word "to'ebah" is mistranslated in many English translations of the Bible as "abomination." But it actually refers to an action that is "ritually impure" under the Mosaic code.

  • A couple in which a woman is attempting to remarry her former husband from whom she had been divorced: This is not allowed if she has engaged in sexual behavior since her divorce, according to:

    Deuteronomy 24:4: "Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the Lord."

If clerks were to follow Kim Davis' example and disobey the Golden Rule, disobey the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court, disobey their oath of office, and strictly follow the conservative interpretation of some Biblical passages and/or the teachings of their faith group, then it is probable that a large percentage of marriage license applicants -- both same-sex and opposite-sex -- would be turned away. Fortunately, for the couples involved, in most states they can simply go to an adjacent county for their license.

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2015-JUL & OCT: Two AP/GFK polls measure public opinion about county clerks issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples:

Two Associated Press/GFK polls, -- one taken in July and a second in mid-October -- found that public opinion has significantly shifted on whether county clerks should be expected to issue licenses to same-sex couples, even if they have a personal religious objection against such couples marrying. 6

  • In July, a poll showed that a very small plurality of 49% of adults felt that government officials should be excused from issuing marriage licenses if it violated their sincere religious beliefs. Meanwhile, 47% felt that they should be expected to conform to the law in spite of their beliefs. Only 4% had no opinion or didn't answer.

  • A duplicate poll was taken in mid-October. By this time the JUN-26 ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court that legalized same-sex marriage had been well publicized. The refusal of Kim Davis in Rowan County, Kentucky, and a few other county clerks to issue licenses to same-sex couples was very common knowledge. The polling results showed that public opinion had flip-flopped. Only 41% of U.S. adults agreed that clerks should be allowed to discriminate according to their beliefs. For the first time ever, a 56% majority of U.S. adults feel that clerks should issue licenses to all legally qualified couples. 6

CBN reported that retiree Linda Massey, 64, said:

"If the government says you have to give out those marriage licenses, and you get paid to do it, you do it."

On the other hand, they quoted Nick Hawks of Ararat NC as telling The Associated Press that:

""We've got to decide at some point who's going to be protected first. It doesn't seem quite fair [to allow a minority such as gay people to] ... "control the policy." 7

In other words, most adults feel that a couples' right to equal treatment should trump a clerk's religious freedom to discriminate against members of the LGBT community.

Both polls involved among a random sampling of about 1,000 U.S. adults. The margins of error were ±3.3 percentage points.

This shift appears to be one more indication of the gradual secularization of U.S. culture. On this matter, couples' human rights outweigh clerks' religious freedom to discriminate!

Webmaster's note:

I added a comment to the CBN article. 7 It says:

This news seems to be one more indication of the gradual secularization in the United States. People's and couples' human rights are now valued more than county clerks' sincere religious beliefs. At least they are on this one topic. We will have to wait and see if this change is positive or negative.

Another reader of the CBN article who goes by the penname "Hope" said:

The END HAS COME. America is beginning to cease to exist. When we have reduced the Moral compass to lowest denominator, we will not exist anymore. AMERICA DOES NOT BELIEVE THE BIBLE. IT'S NO LONGER THE STANDARD BY WHICH WE LIVE."

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2015-NOV-01: Current status of Gay marriage (a.k.a. same-sex marriage) in the United States:

Marriage licenses for same-sex couples are becoming generally available throughout the United States with the exception of the Territory of American Samoa where the territorial government still hasn't decided whether to follow the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. That territory is unique in that most of its population is considered American residents, not American citizens. Thus High Court rulings do not necessarily apply there.

Elsewhere, qualified same-sex couples are now routinely obtaining marriage licenses and subsequently marrying. In some states in the Deep South, a few county clerks are opting out of providing marriage licenses to all couples. However, same-sex couples can generally go to an adjacent county in their state to pick up their licenses.

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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. "Ted Cruz’s Line on Gay Marriage Draws Hisses and Boos From ‘Late Show’ Audience — Watch Stephen Colbert’s Response," The Blaze, 2015-SEP-22, at:
  2. Ed Payne & Daniel Burke, "Kim Davis met with Pope Francis for 10 minutes, received a rosary,"CNN News, 2015-SEO-30, at:
  3. Father Federico Lombardi, "Holy See Press Office issues statement on Pope's meeting with Kim Davis," Vatican Radio, 2015-OCT-02, at:
  4. "Bible verses about adultery and Divorce, King James Bible Online, at:
  5. Phiip Pullella, "Sense of regret in Vatican over pope meeting with gay marriage opponent," Reuters, 2015-OCT-02, at:
  6. Laurie Kellman & Emily Swanson, "AP-GfK Poll: Clerks must issue gay marriage licenses," AP-GFK Poll, 2015-OCT-30, at:
  7. "Poll: Clerks Must Issue Gay Marriage Licenses," CBN News, 2015-OCT-30, at:

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How you may have arrived here:

Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2015-SEP-15
Latest update: 2015-OCT-05
Author: B.A. Robinson
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