MOREHEAD, KY., August 13 (Amy R. Connolly) — A Kentucky county clerk turned away a gay couple seeking a marriage license Thursday, hours after a federal judge dismissed her religious-freedom argument saying her devout convictions have “no bearing on this purely legal inquiry.”
In a 28-page opinion, U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning found Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, an Apostolic Christian, interfered with the fundamental right to marry by denying licenses on June 26, after the U.S. Supreme Court‘s historic decision that legalized gay marriage. Bunning said Davis “likely has violated the constitutional rights of her constituents” in her refusal.
She filed an appeal after Bunning’s decision and is continuing to refuse to issue the licenses.
“Kim Davis is resolute in vindicating her rights,” said Davis’ attorney, Roger Gannam, of the Liberty Counsel, a religious advocacy group. “Fundamentally, we disagree with this order because the government should never be able to compel a person to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
The fight in Rowan, a county in northern Kentucky with a population of 23,000, began when four couples, two of them gay, were turned away because of Davis’ “deep religious convictions.” The American Civil Liberties Union sued Davis on their behalf, stating she “acted maliciously, with callous disregard for, or with reckless indifference to the clearly established rights of the named plaintiffs.”
In his ruling, Bunning said, “The state is not asking her to condone same-sex unions on moral or religious grounds, nor is it restricting her from engaging in a variety of religious activities.”
“She is even free to believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman, as many Americans do. However, her religious convictions cannot excuse her from performing the duties that she took an oath to perform as Rowan County clerk,” he wrote in his ruling.