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Patriot County Clerks Defy Supreme Court On Same-Sex “Marriage”

county clerk marriage license office


While state governors have been reluctant to declare they will resist the Supreme Court’s recent anti-constitutional ruling on same-sex “marriage,” at the local level public officials are exercising their religious liberty, and standing for state prerogatives under the Constitution, by declaring they will not be bound by the Supreme Court’s same-sex “marriage” mandate.

In Tennessee, for example, the entire Decatur County Clerk’s Office resigned rather than follow the recent same-sex “marriage” mandate announced by the Supreme Court.

Decatur County (Tennessee) Clerk Gwen Pope explained her decision to quit her elected post. “It’s for the glory of God. He’s going to get all the glory,” she told WBIR TV.

Pope asserted she would rather resign than submit to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She and her two staff members, Sharon Bell and Mickey Butler, have all quit for the same reason. Their last day of work is July 14.

The TV station indicates the phone in the Decatur County Clerk Office “rang nonstop” as “[o]ver and over again, people praised the decision of the three workers who have decided to step down from their positions rather than hand out same-sex marriage licenses.”

A county clerk in Arkansas plans to resign on Tuesday due to a moral objection to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, ArkansasOnline reported on Monday.

Cleburne County (Arkansas) Clerk Dana Guffey said Monday she has notified the county judge of her plans to resign. She says she has a moral objection to issuing the marriage licenses following Friday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling mandating same-sex “marriage” nationwide. She said the decision to leave the post after 24 years was not made out of hate.

Linda Barnette of Grenada County, Mississippi, resigned for a similar reason, stating:

The Supreme Court’s decision violates my core values as a Christian. My final authority is the Bible. I cannot in all good conscience issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples under my name because the Bible clearly teaches that homosexuality is contrary to God's plan and purpose for marriage and family.

Hood County (Texas) Clerk Katie Lang cited religious beliefs as her reason for refusing to file a marriage license application for a same-sex couple. However, she promised that someone in her office would accommodate the couple.

In Texas Bastrop, Buleson, Jackson and Ector counties were also still declining to issue licenses.

Lang is now being sued by same-sex couple Jim Cato and Joe Stapleton.

Democratic Rowan County (Kentucky) Clerk, Kim Davis, is one of numerous clerks in Kentucky who are protesting the Supreme Court decision by denying everyone a marriage license, saying that anybody who wants on will have to defer to another county.

“My conscience will not allow me to issue a license for a same sex couple,” Davis said to LEX18 Lexington, KY News, “because I know that God ordained marriage from the very foundation of this world to be between a man and a woman.”

Davis is now being sued by the Kentucky branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Clerks in Casey and Montgomery counties in Kentucky said they also have suspended the issuance of marriage licenses at their courthouses. Clinton County Clerk Shelia Booher said she's "still getting legal advice" on how she can proceed,

Montgomery (Kentucky) County Clerk Chris Cockrell, though, said he isn't prepared to change his own definition of marriage so quickly.

"I have suspended all marriage licenses until I can get legal counsel," Cockrell said. "Nobody had even read the whole court ruling yet — it was, like, 109 pages — when the governor was sending us a letter saying, 'Go, go, go!' Well, a lot of us still have questions."

Chris Jobe, president of the Kentucky County Clerks Association, said he has heard from several clerks who have religious objections to same-sex marriage, so they have decided to stop issuing any marriage licenses.

Lawrence County, where Jobe is clerk, likewise has gotten out of the marriage-license business, at least for now.

"We're exploring our options," Jobe said, citing the suddenness of the change. "We're still trying to sort it out."

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's decision to support clerks who want to opt out of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples for religious reasons. Likewise, in Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal issued a legal memo Monday ordering that “reasonable accommodations” should be made for local clerks and justices of the peace who have a religious objection to opt out of granting marriage licenses to gay couples.

Paxton issued a nonbinding legal opinion saying that officials can deny marriage licenses if they have religious objections. His opinion was echoed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who issued a directive Friday to state agencies to protect the religious liberties of all Texans.
“Texas must speak with one voice against this lawlessness, and act on multiple levels to further protect religious liberties for all Texans,” he said in a statement.

Paxton, in his Sunday opinion, did warn that any employee who does not issue a license to a same-sex couple could face lawsuits or fines. But he also said a number of lawyers are ready to defend — at no cost — any official who chooses to not grant same-sex “marriage” licenses.

Paxton's statement is just one of the several defiant statements from Texas Republicans following the ruling. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, for example, told the Texas Tribune in an interview in Iowa that the court's ruling "seeks to force Bible-believing Christians to violate their faith."

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County Clerks

Decatur County, Tennessee is on county over from me and I applaud what the officials are doing. The irony of this is Decatur County is extremely heavily Democrat and these same folks who applauding what the Clerk and deputy clerks did will go right to the polls and vote for the liberal agenda (Democrat)in the next election.

Same Sex Marriage

Maybe I am missing something, but what I got out of the ruling was that same-sex marriages must be recognized in every state. It said nothing about states whose constitution prohibits same-sex marriage having to issue marriage licenses and perform marriages. It was assumed by the media that it would automatically be legal in every state. Where am I going wrong?

Civil Disobedience

I applaud the actions of these brave clerks. However, for civil disobedience to have a deep impact--for it to galvanize the nation--it must be practiced at higher levels of government. We need governors and whole state legislatures to draw a line in the sand, saying, "No we will not comply with this evil decree, nor will we comply any longer with Roe vs. Wade. We must obey God rather than man."

Here is a letter I wrote to all the major Christian leaders operating in the public square. So far, not one has responded. I am dismayed. If Christian leaders cannot see that the time for principled, non-violent, united civil disobedience has come, who can and who will?

I am glad that this website has the courage at least to touch on the subject. Thank you.

Dean Davis

July 1, 2015

Dear Christian Leader,

I am deeply concerned that in the wake of the recent SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage, no evangelical leader I know of has stepped forward to urge state-level non-compliance with the court's immoral and unconstitutional decree. Instead, these leaders are now re-trenching, gearing up for the inevitable assault on their religious liberties. I reckon this to be a serious failure on the part of the Church. The great need of the hour is not for retrenchment; it is for Christian leaders to exercise their prophetic role in society, not only excoriating the justices for their immoral and lawless decision, but also by urging “lesser magistrates” at the state level conscientiously to disobey it. In short, the time for principled, non-violent, civil-disobedience is upon us.

I am mindful that many Christian leaders advocate submission to this decision, citing as their rationale Romans 13, with its high doctrine of obedience to the powers that be. But this is a misunderstanding misapplication of the text. Paul's premise is that such officials are called of God to be "ministers of righteousness." From this I deduce that when they cease being ministers of righteousness, and become instead ministers of evil and injustice, they forfeit their claim to obedience. Indeed, from that moment on, it becomes the duty of the Church to call lesser officials, and the people as well, to oppose the mandates of lawless rulers, and even, in dire circumstances, to remove and replace those rulers altogether. In short, Romans 13 actually entails a positive duty for lesser magistrates to walk the path of civil disobedience in the face of evil and tyrannical decrees. This was the teaching of Calvin and it was the philosophy of the American founders. I believe American churchmen should be calling us to it.

I therefore propose that you and like-minded leaders in the public square use these next few weeks to come together in conference to ponder the Scriptures and our founding documents afresh, and then to issue a united call to all state governors, legislators, judges, and any officials in any way impacted by the SCOTUS decision (e.g., clerks who issue marriage licenses). I hope you will urge them--on the grounds of conscience, the explicit theism and natural law of the Declaration, the principles of the U.S. Constitution, the principles of their own state constitutions, and the declared will of the people as manifested in state legislatures and plebiscites which opted for traditional marriage--not to comply with this evil decision. They should instruct courts and courthouses not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Issuing such a statement would have many positive effects. It would glorify God; it would offer encouragement to dispirited Americans who embrace traditional values; it would serve as a lighting rod, galvanizing the widespread but unfocused national opposition towards this decision; and it would, in turn, put pressure on weak-kneed political leaders who are already calling Obergefell "the law of the land." Such leaders, along with their ecclesiastical counterparts, should re-read Martin Luther King Junior's Letter from a Birmhingam jail, wherein we are reminded, per Augustine, that an unjust law is no law at all, and that true justice is sometimes best served by refusing to comply with unjust laws of the land.

Brothers, this week I am reminded of men like Stalin, Mao, and Hitler, or groups like ISIS, that, under God's providence, from time to time arise and place before us a severe test of our wisdom, integrity, courage, and faith. We must not fail that test. All who know the Bible and history understand that institutionalized evil never rests. It will never stop its advance; it will ever swallow up all truth, all beauty, all goodness, and all freedom in its path, unless and until the people of God and people of good will everywhere draw REAL, costly, red lines, saying, "No, we will not submit to this immoral, unjust, and tyrannical decree; we must obey God rather than man."

If this is not the place for drawing such a line, I don't know where it is.

Thanks for listening.

Sincerely in Christ,

Dean Davis