The Democratic governor of Kentucky has ordered a county court clerk to resign if he continues to cite religious reasons for his refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples who want to wed.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear—whose father and grandfather were reportedly both Christian ministers and who identifies himself as a Baptist—told Casey Davis that he only had two choices: Uphold the US Constitution or quit his job.
Davis is one of three clerks in the state who vowed not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of their Christian convictions. He met with the governor last week to express his concerns, telling Beshear that his conscience forbids him to facilitate the sins of others. During the meeting, about 50 of Davis' friends and family members reportedly gathered to pray at the capitol rotunda.
After the meeting, Davis told the media that the governor gave him two choices: "Issue marriage licenses or resign," according to NBC News.
"I can't quit... I have a mortgage to pay. If that's what it takes for me to express the freedom of religion that I believe I was born with, I'm willing to do that," Davis said.
He said nobody can force him to do something that violates his religious beliefs.
Davis, for his part, explained in a written statement after the meeting that "according to the United States Supreme Court, the Constitution now requires that governmental officials in Kentucky and elsewhere must recognize same-sex marriages as valid and allow them to take place."
"One of Mr. Davis' duties as county court clerk is to issue marriage licenses, and the Supreme Court now says that the United States Constitution requires those marriage licenses to be issued regardless of gender," he added.
Davis and other Kentucky officials reportedly had urged the governor to call a special legislative session to pass a law that would provide protection to
Christians who are acting in defence of their faith.
Beshear reportedly rejected the proposal, saying he did not think such a legislation was worth the $60,0000 a day expense of the session.
Davis said he is standing his ground and will neither issue the marriage licenses to same-sex couples nor quit his job.
"I'm going to be not wise in mine own eyes," he said, referring to a Scripture in the book of Proverbs. "I'm going to fear the Lord and depart from evil."
Davis admitted that he may face court action as a result of his decision but is learning to "lean on the Lord." He said he is willing to go to jail for his Christian convictions if need be.
"If that's what it takes for me to express the freedom of religion that I believe I was born with, I'm willing to do that," he told reporters.
Three other Kentucky clerks—Kenny Brown in Boone County, Kim Davis in Rowan County and Jason Denny in Anderson County—have likewise refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of their Christian convictions.