Gay Marriage-Objecting Clerk Closes Office Before Protests

Rowan County, Kentucky, Clerk Kim Davis appealed her case to the Supreme Court on Friday

The Kentucky clerk at the center of a conflict over same-sex marriage closed her office Saturday ahead of a rally protesting her refusal to issue marriage licenses.

The protest comes a day after Rowan County clerk Kim Davis asked the U.S. Supreme Court to grant her "asylum for her conscience."

Davis stopped issuing all marriage licenses after the Supreme Court's June ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. Four couples have sued, saying Davis must fulfill her duties as an elected official regardless of her personal belief that gay marriage is sinful.

A few dozen people showed up to protest Davis' ongoing refusal on Saturday. A note on the door did not explain the office's closure, but asked those who were inconvenienced to put their names on a list.

Davis, who objects to gay marriage for religious reasons, asked the nation's highest court Friday to grant her "asylum for her conscience."

The Supreme Court ruled in June that the Constitution guarantees gay people the right to marry. But Davis contends the First Amendment guarantees her the right of religious freedom.

Davis' lawyers said they filed an emergency appeal with the Supreme Court Friday, asking that they delay the mandate to issue licenses until her appeal is finished, a process that could stretch for months.

Forcing her to abandon her Christian principles and issue licenses could never be undone, her attorney, Jonathan D. Christman, with the Christian law firm Liberty Counsel, wrote the court. He compared it to forcing a person who objects to war into the battlefield, or forcing a person who opposes capital punishment to carry out an execution.

"That searing act of personal validation would forever, and irreversibly, echo in her conscience — and, if it happened, there is no absolution or correction that any earthly court can provide to rectify it," he wrote.

The couples could easily drive to a nearby county to get a marriage license, Davis argued. But the couples counter that they have a right to get a marriage license in the county where they live, work and pay taxes.

Davis' case will fall to Sixth Circuit Justice Elena Kagan, a liberal judge who joined the majority opinion in legalizing gay marriage. Kagan could reject it outright in a matter of days, or she could ask the couples' attorneys to file a response and refer it to court for review.

Dan Canon, an attorney representing the couples, called Davis' latest challenge "meritless."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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