Religion vs. rights: Kentucky clerk refuses gay marriage licences



Kim Davis, embraced by her lawyer, Mat Staver, appears before the media with Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, left, outside the Carter County Detention Center in Grayson, Ky., on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015. (Pablo Alcala/Lexington Herald-Leader/TNS)

One’s conscience is a powerful thing; it is what keeps people in check and prevents anything from small lies to murder. However, the issue has been raised as to whether one’s conscience is enough to ignore the law.

According to a Kentucky county clerk, Kim Davis, the answer to that would be yes. Davis, the clerk of Rowan County was jailed on Sept. 3 for refusing to issue marriage licenses after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in June, and she was released on Sept. 8.

There was a rally with dozens of her supporters upon her release, including presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

According to CNN, Huckabee said, “If you have to put someone in jail, I volunteer to go….I’m not willing to spend the next years in tyranny under people who think they can take our freedom and conscience away.”

Davis claims that as an apostolic Christian, gay marriage violates her Christian beliefs and her conscience. In fact, Kentucky’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act from 2013 prevents the state government from burdening someone’s religious beliefs, including elected officials, unless it proves sufficient reason.

Rishav Dasgupta sophomore said, “I don’t believe it’s right to deny someone a service that they deserve just as much as anyone else. We are all equal, and are, therefore, theoretically entitled to the same rights. Morals and legalities are two different things though- whether or not it is right, I’m not sure if businesses should be forced to cater towards everyone.”

19 other states have similar laws, including Indiana where unrest was spurred last March by a law that opponents said would allow businesses to discriminate against homosexuals based on their religious beliefs.

Davis, having refused to issue marriage licences, was sued by four couples and jailed for contempt when she defied multiple court orders telling her to do her job and issue the licenses.

She chose to stay in jail rather than resign from her position or allow for her name to be on the marriage licenses of gay couples, but was released on Sept. 8 after her deputies issued the licenses in question.

However, she will be jailed again if she attempts to prevent her deputies from providing marriage licenses to gay couples.

Ryan Tufts sophomore said, “It comes to a point where freedom of religion turns to discrimination. Kim is utterly appalling… People, no matter what sexual relation they have, deserve the right to live their lives how they want.”

Jenna Bao