James Yates and William Smith Jr. have tried to get a marriage license from Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis three times. Each time, she turned them down, the last time on Wednesday.
“We should be celebrating right now, enjoying our lives together,” Smith told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “Instead, we’re on nerves, waiting for someone to say we can get a marriage license.”
The couple plan to try again in September, but they have absolutely no confidence that the clerk will finally give in the fourth time. Since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay unions nationwide earlier this summer, Davis has refused to issue the document to any couple, straight or gay, because it conflicts with her personal religious beliefs.
Yates said that for him and his fiancé, it seems like the historic decision never happened.
“We had talked about doing it before. But we wanted to wait until it was recognized here, because this is where we live. If it’s not recognized at home, then it’s almost like it doesn’t count.”
In refusing to provide a license to the couple Wednesday, she may be in violation of an official order, as well. But to understand why, you need to understand the basis for this impasse between Kim and the courts.
Davis identifies as an Apostolic Christian and feels giving one to a gay couple is the same as approving of it. And based on her religion, Kim believes that marriage is between a man and a woman only. She also is under the impression that this protest is protected under the First Amendment and her state’s laws governing freedom of religion, the Courier Journal added.
According to an appeals judge, it doesn’t. She isn’t operating a private business, after all, she’s a public servant, paid by taxpayers, and is a representative of the government. And Davis is required, in her role as public servant, to serve the entire public — and that means people of all kinds, Slate explained.
When she clocks in for the day at the courthouse, in other words, her individual rights cannot govern the performance of her job. And that includes her religious beliefs.
The judge ruled that the law requiring Kim to serve all couples, gay or straight, is not a restriction on her religion and the state isn’t telling her she has to suddenly believe in same sex marriage. The task is “purely legal.”
She is is being represented by the Liberty Counsel, a group that protects religious freedoms, and its founder, Mat Staver, found the ruling disturbing.
“It suggests that individuals within a government agency don’t have any independent constitutional rights. They don’t lose their constitutional or statutory rights by virtue of working in a public office.”
That aside, the court has still ordered her to issue a license to anyone who walks through her door and asks for one. Davis had previously been ordered by the court to do her job and she requested that order be delayed. On Wednesday, the court said no. It’s possible Kim is legally allowed to deny a marriage license to homosexual couples until August 31, which may explain why James and William still haven’t gotten their paperwork. For them, it’s not just a matter of red tape, it’s personal.
“They’ll file something else to delay it and they’ll make up more dates. They don’t like gays and they don’t want them to get married, and to stop it, they’ll burn the Earth and not let straight people get married, either. That’s all that matters to them.”
[Photo Courtesy YouTube Screengrab]