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Old 1st September 2015, 09:56 PM
OregonCatholic OregonCatholic is offline
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 74
Default Refusing to Issue Marriage Licenses

Ron -

Lately I've been reading a lot about a Kentucky Court Clerk who has been refusing to issue marriage licenses since the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. She claims that doing so would violate her religious beliefs and since the ruling, she has chosen not to issue licenses to either heterosexual or homosexual couples.

Is she taking the right stand here? What would be the obligation of a Catholic in the same situation.
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Old 1st September 2015, 09:59 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 12,577

Is it Moral? County Clerk refuses to issue marriage licenses

Here is the news story: Clerk defies U.S. high court, denies gay marriage licenses. A county clerk in Kentucky is refusing to issue any marriage licenses to any couple, so as not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She cites her conscience and religious beliefs, against gay marriage, as the basis for her decision.

"Citing her religious objections, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has refused to issue any marriage licenses since the Supreme Court in June ruled that same-sex couples had the right to marry under the U.S. Constitution. On Monday the same court rejected Davis' request for an emergency order allowing her to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples while she appeals a federal judge's order requiring her to issue them."

Does she have any moral or religious basis for refusing to issue marriage licenses? In my theological opinion, from a Catholic point of view, she does not, for several reasons.

Same-sex marriage is legal, and the role of county clerk includes issuing marriage licenses. The issuance of a marriage license to any couple by the clerk does not imply that the clerk approves of the union. She does not sin by issuing a license to a same-sex couple, since she has no authority to decide the question of legality, nor to defy the law and courts. She is not giving her personal approval to any couples who receive a marriage license. The license only indicates that the union is a legal marriage; it does not indicate, for any couple, that the union is a religious marriage.

In the past, did she deny a marriage license to non-Christian couples (atheists, Jews, Muslims, others) on the basis of her belief that said marriages are not a valid Sacrament? If she had done so, it would have become public knowledge. In the past, did she interview each Christian couple, to make certain that they are not remarrying after divorce or were otherwise unfit for marriage? No, she did not. So if it is moral for her to issue a legal license to marry to other couples, without regard for her religious beliefs about marriage, then it is also moral in the case of same-sex marriages.

My belief as a Catholic is that same-sex marriages are not a true type of natural marriage, nor a true Sacrament of marriage. However, same-sex marriage is currently legal in the United States. And it would be immoral, in the present circumstance, for Catholics or Christians to unlawfully impede same-sex couples from following the law and their own conscience. A person in good conscience is not thereby given the authority from God to impose his or her conscience on others.

County clerks and other government employees who must issue marriage licenses as part of their job requirements can do so without sin, since they do not have the authority to decide the question and the marriages are in fact legal marriages. If they find themselves unable to do so in good conscience -- I would say due to a sincere but mistaken conscience -- then they should resign their job.

We Christians are not authorized by Christ to force others to believe what we believe, nor to force them to comply with our beliefs contrary to their own beliefs and good will.
Ron Conte
Roman Catholic theologian
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Old 1st September 2015, 10:31 PM
debtarr debtarr is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 55
Default Thsank you!

I love your answer, Ron. Thank you!
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Old 30th September 2015, 06:51 PM
Contrition Contrition is offline
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 41
Default Did Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis have a private meeting with Pope Francis?

Can you comment on this article? Since the meeting was private, I can only wonder what was said.

“The pope explained that "government employees had the 'human right' to say they cannot discharge duties that they believe go against their conscience," although he did not mention Davis by name.”

UPDATE: The Vatican has confirmed the meeting, according to the Washington Post.

Rev. Manuel Dorantes, a spokesman for the Vatican, said to The Washington Post, "I do not deny that the meeting took place, but I have no comments to add."
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Old 30th September 2015, 08:18 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 12,577

I already commented on my blog:

The Pope's teaching that we all have the right to conscientious objection is true. But a judgment of the prudential order is needed to decide what to do in particular circumstances.
Ron Conte
Roman Catholic theologian
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