‘Gays’ shopped for Christian clerk to target
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito warned in dissent that the “same-sex marriage” ruling would be used to “stamp out” those who disagree with the progressive agenda.
According to an attorney with Liberty Counsel, a federal judge is expected to release a ruling as early as Aug. 11 on whether an official in Kentucky will be forced to violate her strongly held religious beliefs and issue licenses to same-sex couples.
The case is against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who has declined to issue the licenses because it would violate her First Amendment rights to practice her faith.
She testified in a court hearing Monday in a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a handful of plaintiffs, including same-sex duos.
Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, which is representing Davis, said that despite “the opinion of five black-robed lawyers, the Constitution still governs the United States, and the First Amendment guarantees Kim and every American the free exercise of religion.”
Liberty Counsel cited a previous dispute between work obligations and religious rights on which the Supreme Court ruled. At that time, then-Justice William Brennan, who was far from a conservative, said in Sherbert v. Verner that to “condition the availability of benefits on this [worker’s] willingness to violate a cardinal principle of her religious faith effectively penalizes the free exercise of her constitutional liberties.”
Roger Gannam, senior litigation attorney for Liberty Council, said the case “is not about couples who want to be married – they can easily get married in Kentucky.”
“This case is about crushing dissent and removing Christian public servants from office. Religion tests for holding elected office are unconstitutional and un-American,” he said.
When the Supreme Court announced its marriage decision June 26, Alito said it “usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter the traditional understanding of marriage.”
“The decision will also have other important consequences,” he said. “It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women. The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.”
Staver said the Davis case is not just for his client but for every Christian who holds office or owns a business.
“It is for every pastor and church member,” he said. “Today, we are fighting for your rights to exercise your deeply held religious beliefs.”
He cited the First Amendment’s establishment and free-exercise clauses, that Congress “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
In the Monday hearing, Davis described herself as an apostolic Christian who believes marriage is the union of one man and one woman. She said issuing licenses to same-sex couples would be a tacit endorsement of something she opposes on religious grounds.
“If I say they are authorized, I’m saying I agree with it, and I can’t,” Davis said.
The hearing before U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning concluded with Davis’ testimony.
A lawyer for the ACLU told the Louisville Courier-Journal the objective of the case is to force the Christian worker to behave according to the dictates of the new social standard.
“Why should they be held to a different standard?”
While two lawmakers in the state have proposed legislation to protect objecting officials, Gannam argued that Kentucky allows couples to obtain a marriage license in any county that is valid statewide. In fact, he told WND, that to file the case against David, the plaintiffs had to travel past several locations where they could have obtained a marriage license.
He said the goal, then, is “to stamp out any vestige of dissent,” as Alito put it.
Gannam said the judge will have to balance the clerk’s First Amendment constitutional rights with the right newly created by the Supreme Court.