For some, the U.S Supreme Court’s recent decision granting same sex couples the right to marry in all 50 states, was a foreseen conclusion to a long-lived battle for equality. For others, however, it feels like an infringement on religious beliefs and the redefinition of marriage at its core.
There are some who are fighting the decision tooth and nail. For example there have been some county clerks in Kentucky who have stopped issuing marriage licenses in fear of having to perform a task that would go against their religious beliefs. These few are being drug into the legal system for not following law and not performing their Constitutional duty. There have been others, such as Grenada County Circuit Clerk Linda Barnette who resigned from her post saying, “The Supreme Court’s decision violates my core values as a Christian.”
The recent decision by the highest court in the country, has reached Logan County now as well. Although Logan County Clerk Scottie Harper has said he will follow the law and uphold his duties, Logan County Magistrate Jo Orange isn’t taking the decision sitting down.
Orange handed out a proposed resolution released by the Commonwealth Policy Center affirming religious freedom and the timeless definition of marriage. Orange asked that the resolution be placed on the next Logan County Fiscal Court agenda on July 29 at 9 a.m. for discussion and a vote.
“There are at lease two reasons I brought the ‘Resolution to Affirm Religious Freedom and the Timeless Definition of Marriage,’ to court,” said Orange to the News-Democrat & Leader. “The first is that the five Supreme Court justices that redefined marriage are wrong. Not only are they morally and sociologically wrong, but it is wrong for a court to subvert the democratic process. The Court’s job is to interpret the law that our citizens voted to put in place. Thirty-one states, including Kentucky, amended their Constitutions to define marriage as between one man and one woman. It only took five judges to strike this down.
“The second,” continued Orange, “is that by redefining marriage, our county court clerks’ freedom of conscience is threatened. No one in the United States of America should be forced to violate their conscience or religious beliefs. Yet they are being compelled to put their signature on a document affirming something they believe to be morally wrong.”
Orange said she shared this resolution with the court to give each member an opportunity to go on record as to what they believe about marriage and religious freedom.
“I hope the court is given an opportunity to vote on it,” said Orange.
Now regardless if the Logan County Fiscal Court votes in this resolution on behalf of Logan County, it holds no legal weight other than the magistrates and judge executive going on record they are against the Supreme Court’s ruling.
The model resolution was released by the Commonwealth Policy Center regarding marriage and religious freedom for local governments on Tuesday. According to Richard Nelson, executive director of the nonpartisan public policy group, the resolution allows local governments to go on record regarding what they believe about marriage. It also affirms that the local government respects individual conscience and religious freedom.
“Many local officials are scrambling in the wake of the the U.S. Supreme Court ruling which struck down Kentucky’s marriage law and redefined marriage,” Nelson said. “The court issued its opinion, now local governments have a chance to respond. Even though the resolution doesn’t have the force of law, it allows city councils and fiscal courts to go on record to affirm basic truths about marriage and religious freedom.”
The resolution states that the local government is resolved to “respect the rights of individual conscience as guaranteed in Article 5 of the Kentucky Bill of Rights; and… that it is neither wise nor safe for government to compel its citizens to violate their conscience”
Full text of the resolution:
A Resolution to Affirm Religious Freedom
and the Timeless Definition of Marriage
WHEREAS, on June 26, 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court by a 5-4 ruling, struck down Kentucky’s Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman in the case Obergefell v Hodges; and
WHEREAS, the U.S. Constitution is silent on the definition of marriage; and
WHEREAS, the Tenth Amendment reserves the rights of the states the power and authority not delegated to the federal government; and
WHEREAS, in 2004, 118 state legislators voted to amend Kentucky’s state constitution to say “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Kentucky.”; and
WHEREAS, 1,222,125 voters or nearly 75 percent of Kentuckians ratified the state constitutional amendment on November 2, 2004;
WHEREAS, Kentucky along with 30 other states amended their constitutions to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
WHEREAS, 106 Kentucky legislators signed onto a friend of the court brief encouraging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the Commonwealth’s duly enacted marriage law; and
WHEREAS, marriage is the most basic human relationship bringing one man and one woman together into a lifelong covenantal union; and
WHEREAS, anthropology supports man/woman marriage by recognizing that men and women are different and complementary; and
WHEREAS, biology affirms man/woman marriage through the truth that human reproduction depends upon the joining of a man and woman; and
WHEREAS, sociology affirms that the children produced by the union of male and female do best when they are raised by both their biological mother and biological father; and
WHEREAS, the major religions including orthodox Judaism, Christianity and Islam affirm that marriage is between one man and one woman; and
WHEREAS, social science affirms that children statistically do better in every category when raised in married two-parent heterosexual households; and
WHEREAS, there is not a single peer reviewed credible scientific study measured longitudinally that indicates that children do better under same-sex parenting; and
WHEREAS, stable heterosexual marriages are in the government’s best interest and best protection against government dependency; and
WHEREAS, the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman applies throughout all of time, to all cultures and preceded civil government;
WHEREAS, the Kentucky Bill of Rights says in Section 5: “… No human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.”
WHEREAS, the Kentucky legislature enacted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2013 which says the “government shall not substantially burden a person’s freedom of religion.” If there is another way to carry out a compelling government interest, it must be done in the “least restrictive means to further that interest”; and
WHEREAS, many Kentuckians hold a sincerely held religious belief that they should not be forced to affirm or participate in same-sex marriage in any way; and
WHEREAS, many Kentucky business owners hold a sincere religious conviction that materially participating in a same-sex wedding ceremony, celebration, or reception, through their goods and services is sacrilegious, and therefore a violation of their conscience or sincerely held religious beliefs; and
WHEREAS, while government may recognize what is written into the laws of nature regarding marriage, it cannot rightly redefine, expand or alter the definition; and
WHEREAS, the recent imposition of same sex marriage by the United States Supreme Court poses potential infringements on the inalienable right of religious liberty; and
Therefore, be it resolved: We believe that marriage is between one man and one woman in a lifelong monogamous covenantal union; and
We affirm religious freedom is an inalienable right and guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution; and
We, respect the rights of individual conscience as guaranteed in Article 5 of the Kentucky Bill of Rights; and
We acknowledge that it is neither wise nor safe for government to compel its citizens to violate their conscience; and
We support the principle of religious freedom in that people have an inherent right to conduct their public lives according to their religious convictions.