Religious Law

This group is defending Kentucky clerk and others who refuse to issue gay-marriage licenses

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The Kentucky clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Kim Davis, may be the most high-profile government official currently represented by Liberty Counsel. But there are others.

The nonprofit religious rights law firm also represents a former North Carolina magistrate, an Alabama probate judge, and a Texas county clerk, the New York Times reports. All of them object to recognition of same-sex marriage.

Liberty Counsel sued in May on behalf of North Carolina magistrates seeking an exemption from performing gay marriages. Republican lawmakers overrode a veto and passed a law allowing magistrates to opt out of performing the marriages, and Liberty Counsel dropped the suit.

In Alabama, Liberty Counsel represented probate judges who don’t want to perform gay marriages in July oral arguments before the state supreme court.

Liberty Counsel is led by Mathew Staver, a former dean of Liberty University’s law school. He will appear today in federal court on behalf of Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk, in a hearing to determine whether she is in contempt for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

An article in Slate questioned whether Liberty Counsel was putting Davis at risk by counseling her to continue to refuse to issue marriage licenses. Staver, on the other hand, said in a court filing and in an interview with the Blaze that there were compromises that would let Davis off the hook.

Staver said one option would be to allow the chief executive of Rowan County to grant marriage licenses. Another option would be to allow Davis to remove her name from licenses. Yet another option, mentioned in court documents, would be to have the state issue marriage licenses, according to NBC News.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said on Tuesday that he won’t go to the expense of calling a special session of the legislature to address the issue.

“I see no need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money calling a special session of the General Assembly when 117 of 120 county clerks are doing their jobs,” Beshear said, referring to Davis and two other clerks refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

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