In November 2004 almost 75 percent of Kentucky voters approved a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
How times change. Just over half of Kentuckians polled recently believed Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis should be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, something she has refused to do since the Supreme Court in June legalized same-sex marriage.
A poll is not the same as a statewide election but the trend is clear. Despite the huge black eye Kentucky has suffered nationally and internationally as a result of Davis' actions, or inactions, a majority of Kentuckians believe she should do her job and issue the licenses.
And, parsing the results of the Bluegrass Poll by age group, that trend is not going to change. Of voters aged 18 to 34, 56 percent said Davis should issue the licenses. They were not the outliers: Some 52 percent of voters 50 to 64 agreed with them. Among voters 65 and older 48 percent said Davis should be required to issue the licenses.
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We have a feeling there are two things at work here.
One is that in the 11 years since 2004 more people have come to know that a relative, friend, neighbor or co-worker is gay and the world has not come to an end, or even been the worse for it. Likewise, in those years virtually every major corporation and educational institution had extended benefits to same-sex partners, again with no apparent harm done to opposite-sex couples or anyone else, and 37 states had legalized same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court decision.
The other factor is that since the Supreme Court decision same-sex marriage is legal in the United States. Whatever anyone's private views are, it's the law and we manage to live together by obeying our laws.
Donna Weatherman, a poll respondent who agreed to a follow-up interview, said she is a Republican and a Christian but doesn't support Davis' stand. "I pay my 10 percent tithe, plus I'm an active church member, but she was elected to do a job," said Weatherman, who lives in Adair County, where the 2004 ban won 88 percent of the vote.
Another respondent, Claude Purvis, lives in Oldham County, where the 2004 amendment won with 69 percent of the vote. He explained his lack of sympathy with Davis' position this way: "We come across all sorts of situations that might not be compatible with our religious beliefs, but we adapt to them and go on."
And move on we should.