Pastors fail to meet with Ky. governor about clerk Kim Davis

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Demonstrators show their support for Kim Davis outside the Rowan County Clerk's Office in Morehead, Kentucky, on September 14, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Chris Tilley
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-PASTORS-CLERK, originally transmitted on Oct. 14, 2015.

Demonstrators show their support for Kim Davis outside the Rowan County Clerk's Office in Morehead, Kentucky, on September 14, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Chris Tilley *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-PASTORS-CLERK, originally transmitted on Oct. 14, 2015.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — A small group of pastors who support Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis left disappointed from the state Capitol on Tuesday (Oct. 13) after seeking a meeting with the governor.

The group had attempted to meet with Gov. Steve Beshear but spoke instead with the governor’s chief of staff, Larry Bond, for more than an hour.

They are urging Beshear to call a special session so lawmakers can enact accommodations for religious county clerks who refuse to provide marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

The Rev. Randy Smith, a spokesman for the group, said pastors were not pleased with the response.

Beshear has repeatedly said he would not spend taxpayer money to call the legislature into special session when the issue could be addressed in next year’s General Assembly.

Beshear spokesman Terry Sebastian said the governor was in another meeting and could not attend Tuesday. He said Bond told the group that the governor has no legal authority to relieve county clerks of their statutory duties through an executive order.

“The General Assembly will convene in just 12 weeks and can make any statutory changes it deems necessary at that time,” Sebastian said.

Smith said the group’s concerns extend beyond county clerks and include fears that churches could one day be forced to perform same-sex weddings. He argued that a majority of taxpayers supported Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage in 2004 and would likely support a special session deal with the issue.

“Accommodations have been something that this nation has afforded many, many people down through the existence of our nation,” he said. “We want to right an injustice.”

Tuesday’s group included five pastors and one deacon from churches in Eastern Kentucky. Smith said 10 to 12 pastors also are forming an alliance to help shape legislation in Kentucky going forward.

The poll was conducted Oct. 6-8 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research. It surveyed 625 registered voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Researchers found that voters in rural areas of the state were more likely to support an exemption compared with those in urban areas.

(Mike Wynn writes for The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky.)

  • Larry

    “It’s the same rhetoric,” he said. “It’s the same thing we’ve heard.”

    Probably stuff like:
    “You have no religious right to discriminate”

    “Government employees cannot use their beliefs to obstruct the rights of others”

    “Have you bothered to read the 1st Amendment? The government can’t force churches to do much of anything”

    “If you don’t like gay marriages, don’t perform the services in your church”

    The idea that one accommodates attacks on the civil liberties of others is ridiculous. Calling it religious belief does not make the act socially or legally acceptable.

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  • Sister Geraldine Marie, OP, RN, PHN

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” (First sentence of he First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
    “….or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” This is the part of the First Amendment that would apply to Kim Davis. Note that nothing is mentioned about oaths taken to issue marriage licenses or whatever. Ms. Davis is exercising her Constitutional rights, which no state law can supersede since the Constitution is the supreme law of the land.

  • Larry

    We are long past the point where your arguments concerning the law and constitution have to be taken seriously here. The issue has been before various courts already. They unanimously found Kim Davis was not exercising religious rights here.

    You are completely wrong here. Its the 1st part that applies here

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”
    [Fundamentalists always forget this one exists]

    A government official using their office in service of their religious belief is establishing a government religion. Kim Davis was not exercising her Constitutional rightswith her various hissy fits. Engaging in free exercise of religion here would have been if she resigned or stepped aside and allow others in her office to perform the duties.

    She attacked the rights of others, in service of her faith. One’s exercise of religion is not license to attack others. Kim Davis no more right to act as she did as I do to commit ritual murder. 🙂

  • alison

    “Pastors fail to meet with governor” implies that the governor called a meeting and the pastors “failed to show up.” This “may” be grammatically correct, but it certainly gives the wrong idea.

  • Re: “‘….or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…’ This is the part of the First Amendment that would apply to Kim Davis.”

    Actually, no it’s not. She’s also bound by the 14th Amendment and the incorporation doctrine. The latter means the states are bound by the Bill of Rights, and in the case of marriage licenses, Ms Davis is an agent of the state. Hence she must either give out the licenses or step back and let someone else do it. Period.

    But thank you for the stock pseudolegal argument which Christofascists such as yourself like to use in order to force the entire country to live by your beliefs. It only tells part of the story, but please, by all means, go ahead and keep using it. Don’t let its specious nature get in the way of repeating it ad nauseam! It’s just the sort of thing that demonstrates how disingenuous and immature Christofascists are. So as I said, thank you for that!

  • Jon Trouten

    Davis has an accommodation. She can delegate marriage licenses to one or more of her deputies. She wants to discontinue the processing of marriage licenses for everyone within her county.

  • CarrotCakeMan

    Americans are increasingly enraged at Christianists and their failed attempt to hide their political agenda to subvert the Constitution behind “freedom of religion.”

  • Doug

    Well Said.