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Kentucky Clerk Against Same-Sex Marriage: ‘I Hope They Don’t Sue Me’

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Kentucky Clerk Against Same-Sex Marriage: ‘I Hope They Don’t Sue Me’


By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, county clerks across the country with religious objections have found themselves at the forefront of a political battle.

Some of the most outspoken against enforcing the ruling have been clerks in Kentucky, including the one for Casey County. That would be the aptly named Casey Davis, 42, a Republican based in the county seat of Liberty. Casey County, in central Kentucky, has a population of about 16,000.

In a telephone interview with the Los Angeles Times shortly before he closed his office Thursday ahead of the July 4 holiday, Davis explained his opposition to same-sex marriage and offered a possible solution that would recognize religious rights while still providing licenses.

How many years have you been clerk, and what did you do before that?

It’s been four years. I was a deputy in the circuit clerk’s office for eight years; before that I worked in a steel cord factory making steel for radial tires.

What is your religious affiliation, and why did that lead you to object to issuing same-sex marriage licenses?

I’m Separate Baptist. I believe that when the Lord said that man was to fall in love and cleave to his wife, that’s what he meant. I believe that First Chapter of Romans exclusively says homosexuality is not the right way to conduct ourselves.

But lay all that aside: It’s against nature. Nature’s law will ultimately trump man’s law…. I don’t think that my conscience, my belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, can possibly ever, ever allow me to see that differently. The oath that I took says that I’m to do this job to the best of my ability, so help me God.

But the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is the law of the land, right?

The powers that be have tried to redefine it, but you cannot redefine the Bible. If the federal government, state government, local government would be logical in their thinking, they really have no right to anything to do with marriage.

How did your office respond to the ruling?

Friday I was out of town, so we didn’t do anything until I came back in. On Monday, we didn’t issue any marriage licenses.

Did couples apply? What did you tell them?

I had one person come in and ask about it, then there were some other folks who called to ask about it. They were all opposite-sex couples and they were all very supportive of this. They said, “We don’t mind the drive [to Casey County], stick to what you know is right.”

We had same-sex couples call. They said I was going to do it or they were going to sue me. I said, “I’m sorry, but this is how it is, I apologize.” They can go to another county. Getting a marriage license is not their entire goal. They want me to issue one.

I had a homosexual man saying he was coming here to get a marriage license and I said, “Look man, I’m willing to drive you to another county.” That wasn’t what he wanted either: He wanted my name on it.

Do you usually issue a lot of marriage licenses?

We had 29 marriage licenses last year in Casey County. It’s not a rushing business here.

What have Kentucky officials told you to do?

I have pleaded with the governor since Monday to give me the same opportunity that he gave [Democratic Kentucky Attorney General] Jack Conway a year ago. He has not even cared enough to reply. Maybe he doesn’t see the way that I’m being discriminated against, and all the other clerks that believe like I believe.

Jack Conway said, for the fact of his conscience, he could not defend Kentucky’s marriage law, so our own Gov. Steve Beshear hired private counsel to defend the law for him. Why is it that Jack Conway’s rights are any more important than Casey Davis’ and the other county clerks who feel the same way I do? I didn’t want this, I didn’t ask for this, I didn’t wake up saying I want to inject turmoil into my life and hear what a bigot I am every day.

How have people reacted to your position?

If you could see the emails, the threats. I did an interview with MSNBC last night and afterward, there was a post online saying the way to handle this was to take me out and hang me. I had one woman come in and call me a horse’s behind. She left real quick.

I wish that person had in my heart what I have in mine. We can live in this world together and disagree. But they need to recognize my rights same as I’m expected to recognize theirs. Why can’t people be sympathetic to both sides of this?

Have you been sued?

I don’t have any reason to sue anybody, and I hope they don’t sue me.

Why not resign?

When I ran for this job, I was passionate about it. When I was first elected, 3,017 people elected me.

My plea to the people who want me out and gone is this: Let democracy do what it’s designed to do. When the voters decide that a person is no longer fit for a job, they vote somebody else in. Don’t have the government force me out or send me to jail.

Are you willing to go to jail rather than issue same-sex marriage licenses?

I’m willing to give my life for it. There are millions of people in this country who died for my rights. If I don’t fight for it, those veterans died in vain. The threats I’m receiving won’t change my mind on this. If they died for me, I can live for them.

What’s going on in the nation is to me something I have to take care of here, and if I don’t take care of here, I can’t look my children in the eye anymore. We’re all in this together. I know there are clerks who feel just exactly like I do and they’re left not knowing what to do.

I have always given my children this advice: When you’re away from me and don’t know what to do, stand still. That is the best way for me to handle this at this time. There is a solution to this if there is a willingness.

When you contacted the governor, you proposed creating an online state system for issuing marriage licenses. Would that resolve the conflict for you and other clerks with religious objections?

That’s the most simple solution to this problem. Everything else is available online; why can’t marriage licenses be available online?

In the technological age we live in, that needs to be a choice. That would take it out of the hands of an individual and stop that problem. And to be clear, I don’t want online issuance of marriage licenses just for gay couples; I want it for everyone. Making a difference for one couple versus another, that’s not what I’m out to do.

Photo: Fox 56 WDKY screengrab via YouTube



  1. charleo1 July 3, 2015

    Just to offer another take on the subject. An excerpt from the office of the attorney of the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. The Honorable Roy Moore:

    Public officials are ministers of God assigned the duty of punishing the wicked and protecting the righteous. If the public officials decide to officially approve of the acts of the wicked, they must logically not protect the righteous from the wicked. In fact, they must become protectors of the wicked. You cannot serve two masters; you must pick – God or Satan. Nuff said.

    1. TZToronto July 5, 2015

      Don’t they want to world to end tomorrow? Heck, if all of the “righteous” get drawn up bodily into heaven, leaving the rest of us behind, we won’t have to put up with their cherry-picking of Biblical verses and laws they’ll uphold.

      1. dpaano September 30, 2015

        No, they’d be left behind because they are all idiots and blasphemous! They aren’t REAL Christians….they are an embarrassment to real Christians!

  2. WiselinePRT July 3, 2015

    He probably expects taxpayers to pay for lawyer.

    1. Daniel G July 4, 2015

      Casey County has tax payers?

    2. highpckts July 4, 2015

      No he will just set a “go fund me” account!!

  3. S1AMER July 3, 2015

    All taxpayers pay your salary — gay as well as straight, religious as well as atheistic. If you can’t do your job of serving all people, resign. Your religion is your business — your job is to serve everybody.

  4. tomtype July 4, 2015

    If you feel you cannot in good conscience do the job, you don’t apply for it. If the job changes so you can no longer do the job, you resign. If he does not feel he can issue licenses, then he needs to assign someone to do so who has no such objections, resign and arrange for the service to continue. There are plenty of people who have a religious objection to purveying alcohol. You don’t apply for a job as a bartender. There are plenty of people who object to serving in war. The are assigned alternate, dangerous or dirty work. They are assigned something to substitute. But they also don’t volunteer for the Marines. There are people who object to contraceptives, but they don’t become pharmacists, or they assign another clerk to handle those products. Maybe he will eventually close his store, but in the mean time he doesn’t stop selling all medicines. But all of those do not stop doing their duty or their job. There are plenty of ways to handle things. But he is just as bad as those who come in just to get him to say no. Remember he is also shorting all those straight couples too by refusing to do what he says he has no objection to. That is incompetence, and there is no religious exemption for that.

  5. Grannysmovin July 4, 2015

    To those whose religious beliefs prohibit them from issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples or providing the service your business offers, i.e. bakery, photography, florists etc.; why did you choose to work as a civil servant or open a business to serve the public? Do you also refuse marriage license and sell your service to the following that should be in opposition of your religious beliefs.

    1. Atheists, Buddhist, Satanist, etc. 2. People who say “Jesus Christ” or “OMG” or “Jesus, Mary and Joseph” when angry or frustrated. 3. Those that do not go to their house of worship at least once a week. 4.Those that may have lied to their parent, called them names, and disobeyed them. 5. People who served their time
    for killing someone. 6. Those that cheated on their spouses divorced and are now looking to marrying someone else. 7. Those who stole from people via shop lifting, robbery, fraud etc. 8.People who lie. 9. People who lust after their friends’ spouse.
    10. People who are jealous and envious of what their friends have and/or do. 11. Upon their release convicted petifilers. 12. Upon their release convicted rapists. Having strong religious beliefs you should be conflicted issuing them marriage licenses or providing services to them, as items 1 thru 10 break the 10 commandments which are God’s Law and you will note there is no commandment about marriage being between a man and a woman only. Items 11 and 12 offend most moral people and you would think would be offensive to people with strong religious beliefs. Picking and choosing which )according to your religious beliefs) sinners you will and will not serve is not your job, you are passing judgement – again not your job

    1. The lucky one July 4, 2015

      Very good points.

    2. latebloomingrandma July 4, 2015

      He should read the parts of the NT where Jesus says not to judge. His job as a civil servant means that he’s working for Caesar and we know what Jesus said about that. I also imagine he has a job description. In most areas of work, if you refuse to do your job you are fired. I wonder if Mr Davis would issue a license if he worked in Vegas and a couple who just met wanted to wed in the Elvis chapel. That that makes a mockery of marriage, yet I never read of any refusals because of religion.

    3. KDJ54 July 4, 2015

      You forgot bankers, the Bible specifically prohibited usury, which is why the Jews were so important to European monarchs. They were not prohibited by scripture from lending money and collecting interest. So if these folks are going to be consistent, they better add the local bankers and employees to the list of people they won’t issue marriage licenses to.

      1. tomtype July 6, 2015

        Actually Jews are forbidden to lending money and collecting interest. But in the middle ages, the out was that Jews were not Christians, so they could loan to Christians, but not Jews. And Christians could loan or borrow from Jews, not not each other. Another good argument for diversity.

    4. highpckts July 4, 2015

      Well said!! Most of what you mentioned are “mortal” sins according to organized religion and therefore deserve stoning!!

  6. The lucky one July 4, 2015

    Mr. Davis wants to have his cake and eat it too. If his belief system doesn’t allow him to perform the duties of his job then he can resign. No persecution in that. He claims same sex marriage is against nature despite any evidence whatsoever to support that belief. What is natural about marriage? It is a human creation. The only persecution here is davis’ desire to impose his belief system on others.

    1. Jef Peace July 4, 2015

      Actually, homosexuality has been proven to exist in nearly every species. It is a genetic condition and anyone who believes otherwise needs to spend a few minutes (it won’t take long) to research the topic. The OPINION that homosexuality is wrong is exactly that.

      Also, marriage is originally a religious invention that was adopted by the masses because of religious influence and pressure to make otherwise natural selection matings “acceptable to God.”

  7. highpckts July 4, 2015

    Uneducated moron!! Talk to any farmer and you will see that it is NOT against nature because there are many instances of same sex in the animal world! How dare he assume that he knows God’s will or any one else’s for that matter!! The arrogance amazes me along with the pure stupidity! Live and let live for God’s sake!!

  8. 2ThinkN_Do2 July 4, 2015

    Leaving religion out of the equation, you are still correct Casey Davis, and you should stand your ground. People see only that which they desire to see and rarely do they want to see the truth. Happy 4th of July to You and to ALL who embrace True Freedom.

    1. Darsan54 July 4, 2015

      Just so long as he and others are willing to pay the price. Jesus would be the first to point out, no man lives alone. His actions have repercussions on everyone around him. His moral stance affects others. He has an obligation to follow the laws as decided by his government. He should resign if he actually wants to follow his principles. He knows with the electoral process he may be able to survive in his office because it’s a small community and probably an even smaller voting population, who may be very sympathetic to him. This is the problem with saying let the locals vote the change in; we would still have slavery today if that were the case. Resign, and show us you really believe what you say.

      1. 2ThinkN_Do2 July 4, 2015

        Where does one draw the line with regard to: small sympathetic community, and large powerful lobby? Does money always speak louder than words? Are we truly following the design of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, or are we falling into the same trap we succeeded (?) in escaping 239 years ago?

        1. pjm19606 July 4, 2015

          What? Just what argument are you trying to make? It is the LAW OF THE LAND as dictated by the Supreme Court. He has to follow it or leave his job.

        2. gococksri July 4, 2015

          You’re joking, right? This has nothing to do with money. This has to do with the highest court in the land following the dictates of the Constitution. This guy is free to believe as he wishes and to act on those beliefs as he has. But he must accept the consequences of his freely-chosen religious beliefs. Others should not have to pay the cost of his discipleship.

    2. drdroad July 4, 2015

      The truth is he is obligated to do his job, or resign. That’s the truth.

    3. pjm19606 July 4, 2015

      With religion out of the equation, he has no ground on which to stand. This clerk is bound BY LAW to issue licenses. PERIOD.

    4. gococksri July 4, 2015

      There is no way to leave religion out of the equation per Mr. Davis. The whole equation is based on his religious conviction.

      He is free to believe as he believes. But that doesn’t mean he gets to keep his job. He seeks a discipleship for which others pay the consequences while it costs him nothing.

      Discipleship doesn’t work that way. He should take responsibility for the consequences of his freely-made decision.

    5. Sand_Cat July 5, 2015

      Like Casey Davis, you obviously think only of yourself. Actually, he at least suggested an alternative, though he should resign.
      You haven’t even the decency to suggest the same.
      Just another hypocrite referencing a national holiday while suggesting a government official disobey the law he swore to uphold.

      1. 2ThinkN_Do2 July 5, 2015

        Luckily I live in the USA, where I have the right to my thoughts, even though some would like to think I shouldn’t. PS – The only thing Obvious, is that you do not know me.

  9. Jef Peace July 4, 2015

    Mr. Davis has my sympathy and full support regarding following his convictions and I will defend his right to speak his mind because it is his Constitutional right to do so. However, as a County Clerk elected by United States Citizens, it is now his duty to issue marriage licenses to ANY couple of legal age who request one. Church and State are separate under Constitutional principle and one’s religious convictions cannot supersede Constitutional principle when one is an employee of the government in any capacity. Mr. Davis cannot fulfill the duties of his office if he puts his religious convictions before his lawful duties and he must choose or face the consequences. It really is that simple.

    1. dpaano September 30, 2015

      Totally agree with you.

  10. paul beard July 4, 2015

    He is obligated to resign if he can no longer discharge the duties and responsibilities of the job. He swore an oath, most likely on a bible, and by staying in his job without doing, he makes a mockery of that oath.

  11. Wedge Shot July 4, 2015

    Same old crap. My religion “trumps” your rights.
    Sorry about the pun.

  12. Elliot J. Stamler July 4, 2015

    If I could live in an absolutely perfect world, to my way of thinking, with me setting all the rules, I would not let social conservative, fundamentalist, evangelical, Republicans even remain alive (yes, that is how much I hate them), much less be public officials. But since I live in a free, democratic country, I and everyone else must obey the rule of law including idiot fanatics like this guy. If you are unwilling as a public official to do your job, resign. It is that simple.

  13. jonponder July 4, 2015

    I wonder how many adulterers’ second marriages he’s licensed.

  14. gococksri July 4, 2015

    This guy took an oath to faithfully discharge the duties of his office; i.e., to follow the laws as they are applicable to his work.

    Though I disagree with him per marriage equality, I respect his right to follow his religious convictions and not issue marriage licenses. However, his religious convictions only carry credibility and integrity if he resigns from his office.

    He took the oath. His religious convictions now prevent him from following the law of the land. Hence, he should resign and not expect taxpayers to continue to pay his salary when he is not being faithful to the oath he took.

    He is looking for a cheap kind of discipleship in which others face the consequences of his religious conviction while he faces none. Discipleship can be costly. Faithfulness can be costly. And others shouldn’t have to bear the consequences of his discipleship.

    Sorry, but he can’t have it both ways.

  15. Angela Monger July 5, 2015

    Well then let democracy work and issue marriage licenses. The Bible does not rule this land. You can believe whatever you want but when you deny something that people are legally entitled to in the county they reside in, either you abide by the law or find a job that doesn’t interfere with your personal belief system that you personally chose to have. The Bible is not the law. It is a religious textbook that people voluntarily choose to follow. If your religion demands that you as a devout believe must enforce your beliefs on others who may not even share your beliefs, I see that as your personal problem and not mine or anyone else’s. Find a religion that is less intrusive on others. That mandates guidelines that only the believer has to live by and not people outside of that belief.

  16. TZToronto July 5, 2015

    Well, the guy’s got a fairly good idea with the online licenses. However, the law of the land is in opposition to what he is required to do. If he doesn’t want to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, then he should quit.

  17. Sand_Cat July 5, 2015

    The Bible is not the law of the land, fortunately. If this guy is so conscience-stricken, he should resign and find a new career.
    I won’t be holding my breath.

  18. Sand_Cat July 5, 2015

    While it’s heartening to see so many people commenting who realize this guy is wrong, all should be aware that many states have “freedom of conscience” laws allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control. The same principle applies: if your [highly-selective] “conscience” forbids you to do the job you’re employed for, you should get another job: PERIOD.

  19. tomtype July 6, 2015

    Can’t he assign a clerk with no objection or fewer objections, willing to do their job? He should understand he is not issuing the license, but rather the state or county. They can have no religious objection because they are purely a secular creation. He is not performing the ceremony, he is purely registering them. That is logging them in. He may not agree with the sale of certain property either the purpose, the price, or even owner, but that is not his judgement. He is purely recording that it happened. He has a wrong perspective on what his job entails. He doesn’t have to approve, just note that it happened. And in fact much of the business that ends up being recorded in a clerk’s office he may not approve of. I hope he’s not enthusiastic about divorces, evictions, tax liens, tax foreclosures and all the rest of the duties of the clerk. He is akin to a historian. He may be appalled at what happened, but his job is to record that it happened.

  20. BigHobbit July 27, 2015

    The clerk swore an oath to defend the constitution and uphold the laws. If his religious interpretation prevents him from doing that, he needs to resign.

  21. dpaano September 30, 2015

    Until one of these idiots can show me a paycheck signed by God, they work for the State and MUST abide by their oath of office and the laws that guide their state and their position. If they can’t do that, then they need to resign and find a job with Hobby Lobby or some other ridiculous place that is pushing their religious beliefs on everyone!


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