Resolving the Kentucky Kerfuffle

by Maggie Gallagher

The Sixth Circuit just upheld a lower federal judge’s direct order to Kentucky clerk Kim Davis to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

Davis’s lawyers say she is discussing all options, including filing a request for a stay to the Supreme Court, a tactic unlikely to produce more than a few days’ delay.

If she continues to refuse to issue marriage licenses, she will likely end up facing jail time and/or bankrupting fines for refusing to obey a direct judicial order.

Let’s face it: There is no way to maintain the rule of law if public officials can ignore direct court orders. If the courts hold that a couple is entitled to a marriage license, there has to be a way for them to get that marriage license.

Conscience protections can’t work as a roadblock to the law, but Utah provided an obvious solution to this problem: Place the obligation on the office to find a clerk willing to issue the license, rather than burdening the individual.

One trouble with court-ordered gay marriage is these kinds of compromises are not built into the cultural revolution the court has ordered. The Kentucky legislature must act and act now to avoid a totally unnecessary showdown between traditional believers and the same-sex couples seeking marriage rights.

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