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Marriage Equality

Kentucky Antigay Rally Draws Thousands

Kentucky Antigay Rally Draws Thousands

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Thousands of people gathered at the Kentucky state capitol in support of three clerks who refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

A rally to support three Kentucky county clerks who refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples drew thousands to the state capitol Saturday, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader. Kim Davis of Rowan County, Kay Schwartz of Whitley County, and Casey Davis of Casey County have cited "religious freedom" as their reason for not doing their jobs.

Davis, who has refused to issue licenses to both straight and same-sex couples, was sued by the American Civil Liberties Union. Video of Davis turning away a gay couple seeking a license went viral online earlier this month.

Davis lost the legal challenge, but so far she has defied a federal court order instructing her to start issuing licenses. The ruling was put on hold to allow her to appeal the decision. Video of staff members in Davis's office turning away the same gay couple for a second time also went viral.

She has filed her own suit against Gov. Steve Beshear claiming his order for clerks to follow the law made those who refuse to do their jobs "vulnerable to being sued."

While the other two clerks have also refused to issue marriage licenses, Davis stole the show, crying during her speech and shouting "He is worthy!" repeatedly to chants of "Praise God." A plane trailing a banner that read "Stand Fast Kim" flew over the capitol grounds during the rally.

Kent Ostrander, executive director of the Family Foundation of Kentucky, told the crowd that the gathering wasn't based in antigay bigotry, but was instead to support religious liberty and freedom of conscience for county clerks. "All living humanity needs God," he said.

Beshear has been blunt with his instructions to the renegade clerks, telling them, "Do your job or quit." Ostrander fired back at Beshear claiming the governor has abandoned his responsibility to protect the clerk's religious freedom. "Governor, please do your job or quit," he said to thunderous applause.

As reported earlier by The Advocate, Republican state legislators have introduced legislation that would allow government employees to refuse to issue licenses if they claim marriage equality violates their religious beliefs. The Kentucky legislature is currently not in session; a vote could not happen before 2016. A ruling against Davis by the federal appeals court would likely make the proposed legislation moot.

Several state politicians, including Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin and Senate President Robert Stivers, attended the rally in an attempt to score political points against Democrats supporting same-sex couples.

A separate rally held at the same time a few blocks away reportedly drew dozens of supporters to celebrate the recent Supreme Court marriage equality ruling and a two-year-old nondiscrimination law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity in Frankfort.

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