Donna Dougherty Law P.C.

Clerk who denied same-sex marriage licenses released from jail

The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage in every state has no doubt led to rejoicing among same-sex couples across the country, as well as in Virginia. Now, same-sex couples are able to get married in states that previously would not recognize their unions. In addition to legalizing same-sex marriage, couples should be able to get a divorce more easily, instead of having to move to a state that recognized gay marriage or endure other legal obstacles.

The hurdles are not yet clear for same-sex couples, however. Many people still oppose gay marriage, and it may still take some time before the brand-new laws surrounding the issue are ironed out. A recent conflict between same-sex couples and a marriage clerk in Kentucky illustrated one of the many struggles that same-sex couples may face when seeking a marriage or divorce. In the highly-publicized incident, the clerk refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples applying in her area. She said that giving them licenses to marry violated her religious beliefs.

A judge held the woman in contempt of court and put her in jail for several days. Before her release, some of the clerk’s deputies issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples applying for them. The judge stated that the clerk cannot prevent her deputies from issuing licenses to anyone legally eligible to receive them, and threatened to put her in jail again if she violates his orders.

It remains unclear what the clerk plans to do once she returns to her job, and one of her attorneys claimed that nothing was resolved with the situation. This incident goes to show that although gay marriage is now legal in the U.S., issues may still arise that violate the rights of same-sex couples.

Source: CNN, "Kim Davis released, but judge bars her from withholding marriage licenses," Jason Hanna, Ed Payne and Catherine E. Shoichet, Sept. 8, 2015

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