The old Rowan County Courthouse (Photo credit: W.marsh, via Wikimedia Commons.)
The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky filed a lawsuit on Thursday on behalf of four couples in Rowan County, Ky. The couples claim to have been harmed by the decision of that county’s clerk to refuse to issue marriage licenses to any couple, regardless of their sexual orientation.
The couples in question, which include two opposite-sex couples and two same-sex couples, want to be able to obtain marriage licenses in the county where they reside, vote and pay taxes. Following the Supreme Court ruling last Friday, Gov. Steve Beshear ordered that county clerks begin issuing marriage licenses to all qualified same-sex couples. But Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has refused to issue licenses to any couple, citing personal religious objections.
The lawsuit insists that “each and every plaintiff has suffered a harm, in that they have been denied a marriage license in their county of residence, along with the associated liberty and property interests enjoyed by married couples, not because they did not qualify for a marriage license, but rather because of an unlawful and unconstitutional policy adopted for the primary purpose of promoting a particular religious belief with which they sincerely and adamantly object.” The lawsuit claims Davis’ policy of refusing to issue licenses “constitutes a substantial, direct and continuous infringement upon Plaintiffs’ fundamental right to marry” and “is not rationally related to any legitimate state interest.”
“Ms. Davis has the absolute right to believe whatever she wants about God, faith, and religion,” said LauraLandenwich, an attorney working on the ACLU case. “But as a government official who swore an oath to uphold the law, she cannot pick and choose who she is going to serve, or which duties her office will perform based on her religious beliefs.”
“When our laws are updated or changed, government officials have a duty and a responsibility to impartially administer those laws,” added Michael Aldridge, executive director of the ACLU of Kentucky.
“It’s a deep-rooted conviction,” Davis told FOX News on Tuesday. “My conscience won’t allow me to do that. It goes against everything I hold dear, everything sacred in my life.”