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Marriage Equality

Clerk Who Won't Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses Sues Governor, Claims Religious Freedom Protections

Clerk Who Won't Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses Sues Governor, Claims Religious Freedom Protections

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Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk being sued for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, has sued the governor.

A county clerk in Kentucky refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and has gone so far as to sue the governor, who she says has violated her "religious freedom."

Kim Davis, who is being sued by the ACLU for refusing to issue the licenses, has filed her own lawsuit against Governor Steve Beshear. The governor had ordered that clerks issue the licenses following the Supreme Court decision in June in favor of marriage equality.

Davis has made national news as she stubbornly refuses to perform her duties, citing her religious beliefs. Clerks should be able to opt out of issuing the licenses, she says, and ordering clerks to obey the Supreme Court ruling meant Beshear "made them vulnerable to being sued," according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Because her oath of office included the words "so help me God," Davis claims that she thought she wouldn't have to "act in contradiction to the moral law of God." She is seeking protection under a state religious freedom law that "sincerely held religious beliefs" unless there is "a compelling governmental interest." Davis is also asking the court to force Governor Beshear to pay any fines or judgements levied against her in the court case filed by her constituents; a ruling is expected on that case this week.

The couples suing Davis, however, see the issue in a different light. Joe Dunman, lawyer for the plaintiffs, pointed out that all citizens should be able to be served by their local government officials. He says Davis' religious beliefs don't matter when it comes to her job duties.

"The case to me is very simple: She is infringing on the constitutional rights of our clients because of her own religious beliefs," Dunman said. "She swore in her oath of office to uphold the Constitution, and the Supreme Court has decided what the Constitution says here. She doesn't get to ignore it just because she doesn't like it."

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