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Pope Did Not Give Unconditional Support To Clerk In Gay Marriage Row: Vatican

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) — Pope Francis did not ask to meet a Kentucky county clerk who had been jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples and did not offer her unconditional support, the Vatican said on Friday.

Looking to limit controversy after last week’s meeting in Washington between the pope and Kim Davis, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said she was one of “several dozen” people who had been invited by the Vatican ambassador to see Francis.

“The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects,” Lombardi said in a statement.

The meeting with Davis, which was originally kept secret, disappointed many liberal Catholics but delighted conservatives, who saw it as a sign that the pope was clearly condemning a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage.

A senior Vatican official, who declined to be named, said there was a “sense of regret” within the Holy See over the encounter, which sparked widespread debate in the United States, overshadowing almost all other aspects of the pope’s visit.

He added that Davis had been in a line of people the pope had met at the Vatican embassy in Washington before he left for New York.

“The only real audience granted by the Pope at the Nunciature (Vatican embassy) was with one of his former students and his family,” the statement said.

Davis was jailed for five days in September for refusing to comply with a judge’s order to issue marriage licenses in line with the Supreme Court ruling.

Davis has said her beliefs as an Apostolic Christian prevent her from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Her church belongs to a Protestant movement known as Apostolic Pentecostalism.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella, Editing by Crispian Balmer)

Photo: Pope Francis waves as he leads the weekly audience in Saint Peter’s square at the Vatican, September 30, 2015. REUTERS/Max Rossi

Pope Secretly Met Kentucky Clerk Over Gay Marriage Licenses

By Alex Dobuzinskis and Philip Pullella

(Reuters) — Pope Francis met a Kentucky county clerk, who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, during his visit to the United States last week, the Vatican said on Wednesday.

“I do not deny that the meeting took place, but I have no comment to add,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said in a statement.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis and her husband met the pope during the Washington leg of his U.S. visit, she and her lawyer told American media.

The Davis couple traveled to Washington and met the pope at the Vatican embassy last Thursday, ABC News and CBS News reported.

“It was really very humbling to even think that he would want to, you know, meet me or know me,” Davis told ABC. “I put my hand out, and he grabbed it, and I hugged him, and he hugged me and he said, ‘Thank you for your courage’.”

“He told me before he left, he said, ‘Stay strong.’ That was a great encouragement,” Davis said.

Davis said knowing that the pope agreed with what she was doing “kind of validates everything.”

ABC said the pope gave Davis a rosary, which she plans to give to her Catholic parents.

The pope, speaking to reporters as he returned home from his 10-day trip to the United States and Cuba on Monday, said government officials had a “human right” to refuse to discharge a duty if they felt it violated their conscience.

Davis was jailed for five days in September for refusing to comply with a judge’s order to issue the licenses in line with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Davis has said her beliefs as an Apostolic Christian prevent her from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Her church belongs to a Protestant movement known as Apostolic Pentecostalism.

To keep a low profile, Davis went to the Vatican embassy in a sports utility vehicle with her hair in a different style than her normal look, her lawyer, Mat Staver told CBS.

Conservative Christians, including some Republican presidential candidates, have said Davis is standing up for religious freedom.

But the American Civil Liberties Union, which went to court to ensure same-sex couples can obtain marriage licenses in Rowan County, has argued she has a responsibility as an official to issue the licenses, regardless of her views.

The ACLU, in papers filed on Sept. 21 with the judge hearing the case, asked the court to require Davis to stop making alterations to the licenses, such as removing any reference to the Rowan County clerk’s office.

(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago, Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Curtis Skinner in San Francisco and Philip Pullella in Rome; Writing by Jeffrey Benkoe; Editing by Lisa Lambert and James Dalgleish)

Photo: Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis speaks during an interview on Fox News Channel’s ‘The Kelly File’ in New York September 23, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Kentucky Clerk In Gay Marriage Dispute Switches To Republican Party

By Emily Stephenson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — A county clerk in Kentucky who was briefly jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples said on Friday that she and her family have switched to the Republican Party because the Democrats no longer represented them.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, 50, who has said her beliefs as an Apostolic Christian prevent her from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, said they had changed parties last week. She was a longtime Democrat in eastern Kentucky.

“My husband and I had talked about it for quite a while and we came to the conclusion that the Democratic Party left us a long time ago, so why were we hanging on?” she told Reuters in an interview at a hotel in Washington, where she has traveled to be feted at a Family Research Council event later on Friday.

Davis also said she did not foresee a problem with the current marriage licenses being issued by her office in Morehead, Kentucky. Critics have charged the altered licenses, which removed her name and title and the name of the county, violate an order issued by U.S. District Judge David Bunning and raise questions about their validity.

“I don’t think there should be much of an issue and the judge didn’t have any problem accepting the licenses that were issued when I was incarcerated, which had been altered, so I don’t see that there should be an issue,” she said.

Davis added, however, that if the new licenses became an issue for Bunning, she was prepared to return to jail.

Davis was jailed for five days in September for refusing to comply with Bunning’s order to issue licenses in line with a Supreme Court ruling in June that made gay marriage legal across the United States.

The stance has made Davis and the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Kentucky and other states the latest focus in a long-running debate over gay marriage in the United States.

She has won support from some conservative Republicans, who say the issue is about religious freedom. Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz were among some 4,000 supporters who attended a rally with Davis after her release.

Davis, who returned to work on Sept. 14, has been under the threat of returning to jail if she interferes in the issuance of licenses.

The couples have asked Bunning to consider ordering a limited receivership for the clerk’s office and fines to ensure that it issues valid marriage licenses.

Attorneys for Davis have said the changes made to the form were a good-faith effort to follow her religious beliefs and to meet the court’s order.

After the Supreme Court decision, Davis announced an office policy that no marriage licenses would be issued to any couples. Lawyers representing two same-sex couples and two opposite-sex couples challenged her policy.

Bunning ordered Davis jailed for contempt on Sept. 3 for refusing to comply with his order to issue licenses. He ordered her released five days later when deputy clerks were issuing licenses.

Davis has asked Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, a Democrat, state lawmakers and Bunning to accommodate her beliefs. She has also appealed Bunning’s orders to the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

(Reporting by Emily Stephenson in Washington; Writing by Ben Klayman; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Photo: Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis speaks during an interview on Fox News Channel’s ‘The Kelly File’ in New York in this September 23, 2015, file photo. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/Files

Endorse This: The Book Of Kim Davis’ Job

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Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis is once again making the rounds on national media. The martyr of the anti-marriage-equality struggle has been explaining why she remains in office while fighting for her cause: “Why should I have to quit a job that I love, that I’m good at?”

On the other hand, one does have to wonder: If a clerk refuses to issue legal documents according to the relevant requirement of the law — then maybe she isn’t actually good at her job.

Video via The Kelly File/Fox News.

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