LGBT

Indiana clerk who refused to issue gay marriage licenses loses ‘religious freedom’ court battle

Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis made a name for herself in religious politics when, as a government employee, she broke the law and refused marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She ultimately lost the ensuing court battle over her actions, and now her Indiana protege just suffered the same fate.

In 2014, long before the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. But that didn’t stop then-Harrison County deputy clerk Linda Summers from refusing to process marriage applications, citing her Christian faith.

When a couple came in a few months after the Indiana court’s ruling seeking a marriage license, Summers refused to do her job and she was fired. She then sued Harrison County, claiming that she was being discriminated against due to her religious beliefs.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young rejected Summers’ claims, saying that performing her duty as a county clerk did not put her at odds with her religious beliefs.

Below is an excerpt from his ruling:

To be clear, Summers did not perform marriage ceremonies or personally sign marriage licenses or certificates. She was not required to attend ceremonies, say congratulations, offer a blessing, or pray with couples. Her employer did not make her express religious approval or condone any particular marriage. Summers remained free to practice her Christian faith and attend church services. She was even free to maintain her belief that marriage is a union between one man and one woman. Thus, she was not forced to “choose between [her] religious convictions and [her] job.”

The Seventh Circuit Court’s ruling against Indian’s ban on same-sex marriage clearly states that government employees employees may not “perform only those duties that meet their private approval.”

From Judge Young:

In the end, Summers should have put her personal feelings aside and heeded the command of her employer. She was certainly free to disagree with the Seventh Circuit’s decision, but that did not excuse her from complying with it. When Summers refused to process a marriage application for a same-sex couple, Defendants were within their rights to terminate her employment as a deputy clerk for insubordination.

[Think Progress] Featured image via adeptweddingphotography.com

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