Marriage equality fight turns to clerks, probate judges who refuse licenses to same-sex couples

Erica Seagraves, right, has a discussion with Malinda Andrews on the steps of the Rowan County Judicial Center Tuesday, June 30, 2015, in Morehead, Ky. Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis is refusing to issue marriage licenses to all couples until further notice as an objection to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage.

Erica Seagraves, right, has a discussion with Malinda Andrews on the steps of the Rowan County Judicial Center Tuesday, June 30, 2015, in Morehead, Ky. Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis is refusing to issue marriage licenses to all couples until further notice as an objection to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage. Timothy D. Easley, AP

Erica Seagraves, right, has a discussion with Malinda Andrews on the steps of the Rowan County Judicial Center Tuesday, June 30, 2015, in Morehead, Ky. Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis is refusing to issue marriage licenses to all couples until further notice as an objection to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage.Timothy D. Easley, AP

Erica Seagraves, right, has a discussion with Malinda Andrews on the steps of the Rowan County Judicial Center Tuesday, June 30, 2015, in Morehead, Ky. Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis is refusing to issue marriage licenses to all couples until further notice as an objection to the U.S. Supreme Court‘s ruling on same-sex marriage.

Same-sex couples can petition, protest and even sue – but that won’t change Probate Judge Wes Allen’s mind: He is not issuing them marriage licenses, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that marriage is a constitutional right equally held by all Americans.

Allen is the probate judge in Pike County, a county in southern Alabama with a population of about 33,000. He is among a handful of public officials across the Bible Belt so repulsed by the thought of enabling a same-sex marriage that they are defying the U.S. Supreme Court and refusing to issue a license to anyone, gay or straight.

Allen and other probate judges in the state cite Alabama Code section 30-1-9, which says marriage licenses “may” be issued by them – not that they must issue them.

Consequently, Allen says, he is “not in violation of any Supreme Court order. … We’re just going to hold the course and not issue any marriage licenses.”

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Allen says that he believes marriage “is one man, one woman.”

In Kentucky on Tuesday, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis shut her blinds at work to block the view of rainbow-clad protesters outside. They carried flags and signs saying, “You don’t own marriage” and chanted, “Do your job!”

Moments later, Davis told a lesbian couple who walked in asking for a license to try another county.

“It’s a deep-rooted conviction; my conscience won’t allow me” to grant gay-marriage licenses, Davis told The Associated Press. “It goes against everything I hold dear, everything sacred in my life.”

Some judges and clerks in Texas have done the same, ordering their offices in the name of religious liberty and free speech to issue no marriage licenses at all.

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