Despite the grave concerns of two Supreme Court justices, the court on Oct. 5 rejected an appeal from a former Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples under her name because of her religious opposition to same-sex “marriage.”
Kim Davis was thrust into the spotlight in 2015 when she, serving as clerk in Rowan County, Ky., stopped issuing marriage licenses due to her religious objections to same-sex marriage. A devout Christian, Davis was sued over her refusal to issue the licenses. She was jailed after she defied a judge’s order to issue them anyway.
That lawsuit will now be allowed to proceed, reports CBS News.
Davis sought to have her case dismissed, arguing she was shielded from civil lawsuits under a legal doctrine known as qualified immunity. Lower courts refused her request and allowed the dispute to move forward.
The drawn-out legal battle involving Davis follows the Supreme Court’s landmark 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the court ruled same-sex couples have the right to get married.
Justice Clarence Thomas agreed with the court’s decision not to take up the dispute, but in a statement joined by Justice Samuel Alito, he sharply criticized the 2015 decision and said it “bypassed the democratic process” and left people with religious objections to changing the definition of marriage “in the lurch.”
“Davis may have been one of the first victims of this Court’s cavalier treatment of religion in its Obergefell decision, but she will not be the last,” Thomas wrote. “Due to Obergefell, those with sincerely held religious beliefs concerning marriage will find it increasingly difficult to participate in society without running afoul of Obergefell and its effect on other antidiscrimination laws.”
Thomas said the justices’ 2015 decision “enables courts and governments to brand religious adherents who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman as bigots, making their religious liberty concerns that much easier to dismiss.”