Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Conscience Rights of Clerks and Judges Become An Issue After Supreme Court's Marriage Equality Ruling

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage, issues continue to arise regarding the right of state and county officials to refuse on personal religious grounds to issue licenses or perform weddings.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that in Hood County, Texas, County Clerk Katie Lang last week initially refused to issue a marriage license to Joe Stapleton and Jim Cato. On Monday the couple filed a federal lawsuit and less than two hours later Lang's office agreed to issue the couple a marriage license.  However the couple's lawyer says the lawsuit will proceed unless Lang agrees to issue licenses in the future to all couples, gay and straight.

According to the Toledo Blade, in Toledo, Ohio on Monday a same-sex couple who were issued a marriage license ran into delays when they went to the office of the judge on duty to perform marriages for that day.  Municipal Court Judge C. Allen McConnell's bailiff told them that McConnell does not do "these types of marriages." However, after a 45-minute wait, another judge, William M. Connelly, Jr., performed the ceremony for them.

In Kentucky, court clerk Casey Davis who objects on religious grounds to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples has come up with a creative suggestion. Davis wants state law amended so couples can obtain marriage licenses online.  AP reports that Davis has asked Gov. Steve Beshear to call a special session of the legislature to amend the law to allow the online procedure.  According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Beshear for cost reasons has rejected the idea of a special legislative session on marriage issues, even though House Speaker Greg Stumbo favors it.