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Kentucky Clerk Sues Governor For Forcing Her To Choose Between Violating Religious Principles Or Resigning

On Tuesday, a clerk from Kentucky's Rowan county filed a federal lawsuit against state Gov. Steve Beshear. Her lawsuit claims her rights to religious freedom were infringed upon when Beshear ordered all clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples or resign. Kim Davis also faces a lawsuit for denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Beshear's mandate asking for the state's 120 clerks to issue marriages to all couples violated her "sincerely held religious beliefs." The lawsuit says "…Governor Beshear is forcing clerks like Davis to choose between following the precepts of her religion and forfeiting her position, on one hand, and abandoning one of the precepts of her religion in order to keep her position, on the other hand."

Davis is seeking protection under Kentucky's religion freedom law, and also demands that Beshear pay for the legal damages amounting from the lawsuits filed against her by Rowan County constituents. Terry Sebastian, Beshear's spokesman, said "The attorney general is not required to appeal every case. The Kentucky Supreme Court held that he is statutorily vested with the discretion as to which cases to pursue. At the same time, the legislature has placed the duty to issue marriage licenses squarely on county clerks."

Yet, Roger Gannam, an attorney with the Liberty Counsel representing Davis, said Beshear misinterpreted the Supreme Court's decision, for an order was called for all states to recognize same-sex marriage, but not for every local official to do so. Gannam stated "It's certainly not a constitutional violation to make people drive one county away to get a license." Joe Dunman, a lawyer representing the couples suing Davis, said "The case to me is very simple: She is infringing on the constitutional rights of our clients because of her own religious beliefs. She swore in her oath of office to uphold the Constitution, and the Supreme Court has decided what the Constitution says here. She doesn't get to ignore it just because she doesn't like it."

Photo: New York Daily News

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