A Kentucky clerk says she is not going to interfere with her deputies issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but she says she is not authorizing them and questions whether they are valid.
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis read from a hand-written statement Monday morning, her first day back in the office after a stint in jail for five days for defying a federal judge.
She choked up as she was speaking, saying she was torn between obeying her God and following the judge’s orders.
‘I love my lord Jesus, I love all people, and I love my job. I want to continue to serve all three as I have tried to do until now,’ Davis said.
Davis, an Apostolic Christian, stopped issuing licenses after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, in defiance of a series of court orders. U.S. District Judge David Bunning held her in contempt and ordered her to jail. In her absence, her deputies have issued at least seven licenses to gay couples.
As she returned to work, Davis said she would still not be issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, but would not get in the way of her deputies granting the licenses without her approval.
‘I love my deputy clerks and I hate that they have been caught in the middle. If any of them feels that they must issue an unauthorized license to avoid being thrown in jail, I understand their tough choice and I will take no action against them,’ she said.
However, she stipulated that she is uncertain whether these licenses are valid, without her stamp of approval. The governor, the attorney general and the county attorney have said the licenses are valid. Davis and her attorneys claim otherwise.
The deputy county clerk who has said he’ll keep issuing marriage licenses despite his boss’ objections now sits behind a sign that reads ‘marriage license deputy.’
Brian Mason remained calm, scrolling on his computer and chewing gum, despite the scene unfolding before him Monday morning. Dozens of television cameras crowded around his counter, some reporters in the back climbed step ladders to get a better shot of him sitting at his desk, waiting for a couple to arrive to get a marriage license.
In her comments outside of court, Davis said that she loves all people, but could not violate her conscience to grant marriage licenses to couples that do not adhere to her religion’s definition of a marriage being between only a man and a woman.
She said she had been pleading with Kentucky Gov Steve Beshear and the state legislature since January, asking that her name be taken off the marriage licenses in the wake of U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing gay marriage.
‘While there are many accommodations available, the very simple accommodation I have proposed is to remove my name and my title as the clerk of Rowan County.
‘These licenses could be issued under another authority, perhaps the Commonwealth of Kentucky or Governor Beshear himself.
‘If these needed to be recorded like a vehicle registration, a lien or a judgement, that could be done. That doesn’t raise a conflict of conscience because then we as clerks are not the authorizers of the license.
‘Because my pleas for a modest accommodation have been refused or not acted upon, I have been required to do that which my conscience forbids. As a result I have spent six days in jail because I could not abandon my faith,’ Davis said.
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