The US Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from court clerk Kim Davis, who in 2015, defied a US Federal court order and took it upon herself to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Rowan County.
Hypocritically espousing the sanctity of marriage when she herself was on her fourth, Davis cited the excuse of moral objection in her refusal to carry out her duties. She was hailed as a hero by right-wing and ultra-religious conservatives who chose to ignore the fact she was breaking the law with her stance.
In the weeks to follow, she was jailed for her actions but was released a mere 5 days later as her deputy clerks had begun issuing marriage licenses in her absence.
Earlier this week, tow supreme court justices attacked the court’s decision to legalise same-sex marriage across the US, referencing Davis’ case.
While the two court justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito said they agree with the decision not to hear her appeal, they said it was a “stark reminder of the consequences” of the 2015 ruling.
Thomas and Alito claimed that Kim Davis “may have been one of the first victims of this court’s cavalier treatment of religion in its Obergefell decision” adding that the introduction of same-sex marriage has left people with religious objections “in the lurch”.
“By choosing to privilege a novel constitutional right over the religious liberty interests explicitly protected in the First Amendment, and by doing so undemocratically, the court has created a problem that only it can fix,” they said. “Until then, Obergefell will continue to have ‘ruinous consequences for religious liberty.’”
Thomas and Alito’s comments have caused outrage amongst human rights campaigners.
“It is appalling that five years after the historic decision in Obergefell, two justices still consider same-sex couples less worthy of marriage than other couples,” James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) LGBT and HIV Project, told The Guardian.
“When you do a job on behalf of the government – as an employee or a contractor – there is no license to discriminate or turn people away because they do not meet religious criteria.
“We will fight against any attempts to open the door to legalised discrimination against LGBTQ people.”
While there has been no action taken this time, Esseks said that this incident indicates the views of some justices.
He added: “What I’m worried they’re going to say is ‘Well, fine, we’ll give you the marriage licence and you can call yourself married, but we’re not going to treat your marriage the same way we treat other people’s marriages’.
“The concern is that they’re going to use religious liberty as an excuse for licensing discrimination.”
Following the death of supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, many were already concerned of the repercussions of her seat being taken by a conservative.
“The nightmare of a hostile supreme court majority is already here,” said Kevin Jennings, chief executive of the civil rights organisation Lambda Legal. “The confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett haven’t even started yet and Justices Thomas and Alito are already creating a laundry list of cases they want to overturn.”
Pete Buttigieg also voiced concern, tweeting: “So much for precedent and judicial restraint. Two justices now openly call for an end to marriage equality – knowing reinforcements are on the way. The stakes could not be higher.”
On Monday, Katherine Zappone hosted a moving and inspirational conversation on the importance of the US Election for the LGBTQ+ community in the US and Ireland.
Katherine opened the discission inviting people living in Ireland to use their voice, saying that they do have an active role to play:
“You do have influence to bear and that you are not and must not be simply bystanders at an important moment in history for LGBTQ+ Rights.”
Watch The US Election and the global impact on LGBTQ+ rights in full here.
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