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The Kentucky county clerk refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses isn’t the only local official in the United States using religion as a basis for denying licenses to gay couples.
A federal judge jailed Kim Davis for contempt of court Thursday after she again refused to issue marriage licenses to gays in Rowan County, Ky., pursuant to the Supreme Court decision earlier this year. Most Republican presidential candidates are backing Davis, saying her imprisonment is an attack on religious liberty.
Despite the Supreme Court’s 5-4 landmark ruling in the same-sex marriage case, many other local officials across the country are not giving up the fight.
In Oregon, an ethics investigation of Marion County Circuit Judge Vance Day has been launched following his decision not to perform same-sex marriages, Patrick Korten, a spokesman for the judge, confirmed Thursday.
Korten said the judge has never performed a same-sex marriage since joining the bench in 2011. He stopped performing marriages of any kind this spring and informed his staff when same-sex marriage became legal in Oregon to refer couples seeking all marriages to other county judges.
According to Korten, Day has never performed a same-sex marriage because of "deeply held religious beliefs." "He has a right to those beliefs under the United States Constitution," Korten said.
Kentucky same-sex marriage case tests limits of religious freedom
In Granbury, Texas, a federal court in July compelled Hood County Clerk Katie Lang to issue a license to Granbury residents Joe Stapleton and Jim Cato; Texas law also requires clerks to record marriage licenses. By the time that case was settled, county taxpayers had to foot a $43,000 bill, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Lang still doesn’t agree with same-sex marriage and says so on her website but is allowing deputies in her office to issue the licenses, something that Davis objects to because the certificates bear her name as an elected official.
In Alabama, the law states that probate judges "may" issue the licenses rather than "shall." At least 10 counties and potentially as many as 15 had shuttered their marriage license operations as of Wednesday with no date for relaunching them, according to Ianthe Metzger of the Human Rights Campaign.
In North Carolina, a law allowing officials to refrain from conducting marriage-related duties has led to more than 30 magistrates refusing to perform same-sex unions, the Associated Press reported.
Since the law went into effect in June, officials with a "sincerely held religious objection" can forgo performing marriages. Only Utah has a similar law, AP reported.
Sen. Phil Berger, R-N.C., said the law is most likely preventing a situation similar to the case involving Davis in the county.
"It’s keeping folks from having to choose between their jobs and their religious beliefs," Berger, told AP. "I think that’s important."
Contributing: Andrew Wolfson and Mike Wynn, The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal, Alisha Roemeling,The Statesman Journal, and David Jackson and Mary Bowerman, USA TODAY Network
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