Bioethics Blogs

A Question of Conscience September 10, 2015 The problem with conscience claims and religious…

September 10, 2015

by Sean Philpott-Jones

On Tuesday, in front of a large crowd of supporters that included Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz, Kim Davis was released from federal custody.

As you all undoubtedly know, Kim Davis is the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage. Kentucky law requires marriage licenses be issued under the authority of an elected county clerk like Ms. Davis. A devout Apostolic Christian, however, Kim is opposed to same-sex marriage. She believes that being forced to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples would violate her religious liberties.

Although she has six deputy clerks working under her, Ms. Davis also refused to let them issue marriage licenses. Since her name appears on the marriage license itself, she believes that issuing these licenses to a same-sex couple constitutes her “stamp of approval” of something she believes to be a sin.

After two straight and two gay couples sued Ms. Davis for refusing to issue them marriage licenses, she was ordered to do so by U.S. District Judge David Bunning. Despite Judge Bunning’s order and despite her appeals to the Sixth District and U.S. Supreme Court being rejected, she remained defiant and was eventually jailed for contempt of court. She was released only after her deputy clerks began issuing marriage licenses this week, but could again face contempt charges if she interferes with the license process.

Now Ms. Davis isn’t the only government official who is refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.