Federal Judge Forces County Clerk to Issue Marriage Licenses Against her Religious Beliefs
A handful of county clerks have refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite the Supreme Court’s June decision to legalize gay marriage throughout the country.
Marriage clerk Kim Davis of Rowan, Kentucky believes that putting her signature on such a license means that she approves the marriage. When Governor Steve Bashear ordered her to issue the licenses or quit her job, she took the case to court.
Judge David Bunning agreed with the governor, ruling that all county clerks must issue marriage licenses to gay couples – even if that action violates his or her religious beliefs. “Kim Davis’ religious convictions cannot excuse her from performing the duties that she took an oath to perform as Rowan County Clerk,” says the judge.
Kim responded to this attack on her religious freedom by filing an appeal of the court’s injunction order. Liberty Counsel attorney Roger Gannam wrote the following: “A SSM license issued on her authorization and bearing her name and imprimatur, substantially (and irreparably) burdens her conscience and religious freedom because it represents endorsement of, and participation in, a proposed union that is not marriage according to her sincere and deeply held religious convictions.”
Kim Davis is frustrated that out of the many marriage clerks who share her opinions, she was the one singled out. According to Judge Bunning, Davis is free to live her Christian life at home. On the clock, however, she must forget about it.
Dan Canon, lawyer on the other side of the case, argues: “It reaffirms the idea that we’ve been trying to stress all along, which is that individual elected officials are not allowed to govern according to their own private religious beliefs.”
Speaking of religious beliefs, President Obama is under fire for replacing the phrase “freedom of religion” with “freedom of worship” when speaking of the First Amendment. He first used the phrase in 2009 and has been using it ever since.
This new language has angered many faith leaders, a group of which worked together to write a letter to the President: “We … write to you with deep concern about the wording of the answer to question 51 on the study materials for the civics portion of the naturalization exam. The question asks students to provide two rights guaranteed to everyone living in the United States, and listed among the possible correct answers is ‘freedom of worship.’ We write to you requesting that this answer be immediately corrected to the constitutionally accurate answer – ‘freedom of religion.”
The authors of the letter mentioned that in many countries where “freedom of worship,” is legal, citizens’ religious freedoms are restricted.
Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma believes the president is “misrepresenting” the First Amendment with this new language. “We in the United States actually have freedom of religion, not freedom of worship.”
Kim Davis is now being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union and has started a case against Governor Steve Beshear.