Some Kentucky county clerks who initially refused to issue any marriage licenses after the U.S. Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decision Friday now say they will do their duty for all qualified applicants.
"We're gonna have to start issuing licenses, unfortunately," said Lawrence County Clerk Chris Jobe, president of the Kentucky County Clerks Association.
Several county clerks have religious objections to issuing a marriage license to same-sex couples, regardless of what the Supreme Court ruled, so they declined to give anyone a license after Friday, Jobe said.
However, after speaking to their county attorneys and other advisers, they now recognize that their oaths of office require them to follow the law, he said.
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"I have gotten overwhelming support from people calling me on this. But we have to do our job," Jobe said. "We will have to wait until we get in reformatted paper versions of the license application from our vendor. But those could get here as early as today. Our vendor said they were shipped yesterday."
Montgomery County Clerk Chris Cockrell said his office will resume issuing marriage licenses, after a brief suspension.
Rowan, Casey and Clinton counties were thought to be the final holdouts on marriage licenses as of Tuesday afternoon, said Bill May, executive director of the Kentucky County Clerks Association.
In Morehead, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis said she won't drop her opposition. Since Friday, Davis said, she has turned away two opposite-sex couples and one same-sex couple seeking marriage licenses. Protesters were gathered outside her office Tuesday morning.
"I cannot compromise my conscience. I can't do that," Davis said. "We've instructed people they're welcome to go to other counties. It's not like they can't go somewhere else."
Davis said she is getting many calls and emails criticizing her decision since she announced it Monday.
"For me, it's about the love of God," she said. "For them, it's hatred — calling me names, saying things I would never say to my worst enemy in a million years. But they have that right."
Rowan County resident Josh Akers helped organize the protest outside Davis' office, which he said drew about 75 people at one point.
"I have several friends in loving, committed relationships who want to be married, and the Supreme Court has decided this," Akers said. "Our county clerk is standing in the way of people exercising their human rights — their civil rights — because she is injecting her personal, religious beliefs into the process."
In Kentucky, it's a Class A misdemeanor — first-degree official misconduct — for an elected official to refuse to perform the duties of office.
Additionally, the Kentucky chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said it will file a civil-rights lawsuit against county clerks who refuse to issue a marriage license to any qualified applicants, regardless of their sexual orientation.
Bill Sharp, the Kentucky ACLU's legal director, declined to say Tuesday whether he has spoken with any of the couples denied a marriage license in Rowan County.
"I will say this much: We are familiar with the Rowan County situation, and we are very much following it," Sharp said.