Video of US clerk refusing to issue gay marriage license emerges


David Moore and his partner try to secure a marriage license

In a scenario not uncommon in South Africa, two gay American men have filmed officials blatantly flouting the law by refusing to issue them with a marriage license.

In the 11-minute video, David Moore and his partner of 17 years are seen being purposefully ignored inside the Rowan County courthouse in Kentucky as they wait to request the licence.

At one point, a male voice is heard telling them to go to another county, while a woman threatens to call the police.

Once the couple are finally allowed to reach the counter, accompanied by an officer, they are humiliatingly told by an official to go elsewhere. She explains that County Clerk Kim Davis is not allowing the office to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

“You can go to any other county to get your marriage license. We’re just not doing it at this time. That’s her choice,” said the official.

“We’ve lived here for over ten years,” one of the men tells her. “We own property here, we pay taxes here, we live here. We have our rights. It’s not her choice.”

The woman responds, “We have rights too as Christians,” before asking them to wait again so that they can speak directly to Davis.

When a sour-faced Davis emerges, she refuses to talk any further on camera and orders the men to switch off their phone, despite their legal right to film the encounter.

On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kentucky announced that it had filed a lawsuit against Davis on behalf of two same-sex couples and two straight couples.

It said that since the US Supreme Court issued its decision to legalise marriages between same-sex couples, Davis has refused to provide marriage licenses to any couple in Rowan County citing her “religious concerns.”

“Ms. Davis has the absolute right to believe whatever she wants about God, faith, and religion, but as a government official who swore an oath to uphold the law, she cannot pick and choose who she is going to serve, or which duties her office will perform based on her religious beliefs,” said ACLU of Kentucky Cooperating Attorney Laura Landenwich.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has also slammed clerks who are refusing to marry gay and lesbian couples, reminding them that they took an oath to uphold the law and the Constitution.

“This oath does not dictate what our clerks must believe, but it certainly prescribes how they must act in carrying out their duties as elected officials,” he said in a statement.

South African same-sex couples have encountered similar scenarios over the years, with officials at some Home Affairs offices also refusing to issue them with marriage licenses.

While individual marriage officers can be exempted by the Minister of Home Affairs from officiating same-sex marriages, the service must still nevertheless be available at every Home Affairs branch.

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