Kentucky clerk declares willingness to die fighting marriage ruling

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A county clerk in Kentucky has declared that fighting against marriage equality is the hill he’s willing to die on—literally.

Casey County’s Casey Davis is one of a small number of county clerks in the state that has vowed to defy the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of the freedom to marry. On August 25, he told the West Virginia-based radio program “The Tom Roten Morning Show” that he will never issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, no matter what the cost.

Davis asserted, “It’s a war on Christianity. There is a travesty taking place with that Supreme Court ruling was completely unconstitutional, completely unconstitutional. They have no right to tell us, the state of Kentucky, that our law that was voted with what was 70 percent of the people that it was wrong, they had no right.”

He went on to say that under Kentucky law, marriage is “one man and one woman,” and as a county clerk, “that is what I held my hand up and took an oath to and that is what I expected. If it takes it, I will go to jail over—if it takes my life, I will die for because I believe I owe that to the people that fought so I can have the freedom that I have, I owe that to them today, and you do, we all do. They fought and died so we could have this freedom and I’m going to fight and die for my kids and your kids can keep it.”

On July 9, Kentucky governor Steve Beshear met with county clerks discuss their refusal to issue marriage licenses in defiance of both the Supreme Court decision and his order to follow it. His message: “Do your job or resign.”

Davis announced on the show, “I think that’s a travesty to think that just because he don’t see it this way or his opinion is to let same-sex marriage go and it’s all right that us as Christians, we as Christians just don’t have rights anymore? That’s wrong sir. That’s not right.”

Some county clerks have attempted to avoid discrimination charges by refusing to issue any marriage licenses, but that loophole is beginning to close. Another Kentucky clerk, Rowan County’s Kim Davis (no relation to Casey Davis), cited her religious beliefs as an Apostolic Christian when she instituted a policy against all marriage licenses; on August 17, a federal judge ordered her office to issue licenses to all couples.

According to the Washington Blade, her request for a stay on the order was denied, on the grounds that even though she intends to appeal, her case is unlikely to succeed.

US District Judge David Bunning wrote in his seven-page decision, “While Davis is correct in stating that a violation of her free exercise rights would constitute irreparable harm, she has failed to show that she is likely to suffer a violation of her free exercise rights in the first place.

“As the Court pointed out in its Memorandum Opinion and Order, Davis is only being required to certify that couples meet the legal requirements to marry. She does not have to authorize or approve any unions on moral or religious grounds. Absent a likely constitutional violation, Davis is unlikely to suffer irreparable harm absent a stay.”

Casey Davis’ arguments can be heard below:

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