What it's like to be gay and have your marriage license denied


It has been nearly two months since the Supreme Court ruled that marriage is a constitutional right for all couples. Yet a small number of county clerks have refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, citing religious objections. Fusion spoke to one of those individuals who has been denied a marriage license.

David Moore and his partner, David Ermold, of Rowan County, Ky., first attempted to apply for a marriage license in early July. County Clerk Kim Davis refused to issue the couple—or any couple, gay or straight—a marriage license. Moore filmed the exchange and posted it to YouTube, where it has since garnered over 1.7 million views.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky filed a class action suit against Davis on behalf of four couples, and a federal judge ordered her to resume issuing marriage licenses on Aug. 12. Davis immediately appealed the injunction, and Moore and Ermold remain unable to get married in their home county to this day.

Moore described his experience over the past couple of months to Fusion over the phone on Friday.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Fusion: When was the last time you tried to get a marriage license?

David Moore: We went on August 13.

Were you once again denied a marriage license?

Yes. They are still not giving out the forms for marriage licenses. There was an injunction from a judge recently, so that’s why we went down. But they refused us a license anyway.

How many times have you attempted to obtain a marriage license and been denied?

Twice. [Moore and Ermold also filmed their second attempt to obtain a marriage license on Aug. 13 and posted the video to YouTube, where it has cleared more than 30 thousand views.]

Was Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis present both times?

She was not present the second time. At the beginning of the video, you see the Deputy Clerk, Nathan Davis, who is her son.

Was his messaging any different as to why you were being denied a marriage license, what with the injunction and all?

He just said that they were not issuing marriage licenses at this time. They told us to contact the lawyers at the Liberty Council, this anti-gay activist group that takes on anti-gay legal cases. [The New York Times called Davis’ case “the nation’s first legal test” of Obergefell v. Hodges.]

What has this whole ordeal been like for you and David, knowing the Supreme Court ruled that marriage is your constitutional right?

It’s degrading. It’s humiliating. And, you know, we have mixed feelings because this town and the community are generally fairly progressive compared to surrounding counties. It’s fairly inclusive, and all our friends are supporters. But those people in that office are claiming to be Christians, and it’s just giving Christians a bad name.

We are disappointed. We are angry. We are sad. Now, we have to decide if we should wait for the court system to allow us to get married—because it’s the law—or if we should go to a different county. We don’t want to go to another county because that’s like saying we should just move to another county.

That was the legal loophole Clerk Davis was clinging to when she began denying marriage licenses in Rowan County, right? That if no couples—gay or straight—could receive a marriage license, then her office wasn’t discriminating against anyone?

Yes, but the day that they stopped issuing marriage licenses was the day of the Supreme Court ruling. She said she was worried about her salvation and her soul.

Have you heard of any couples going to another county to get a marriage license?

So far, none of the couples involved in the ACLU case have done that. And, really, I don’t want to. This is our hometown. We’ve lived here for 11 years. I work here. My house is here. I do all my business in town. If the courts give the Rowan County Clerk’s office a religious exemption, it could soon be 10 counties that have an exemption, then 20 counties. It won’t just be Rowan County [or Henry County, Ala., or Hood County, Texas, or…].

Is there anything else you would like to say that we haven’t touched on?

I would just say that, for us, it’s really frustrating to know that this whole ordeal has been caused by Davis’ opinion. I feel like her legal defense people, the Liberty Council, are this national activist group that has come in to try to take advantage of a situation in order to get publicity for themselves, to get donations. They even say they want to drag this out until we have elections next year.

It’s pretty disgusting that people can’t see that we, as human beings, should be afforded the same privileges that they’ve had their whole lives—that we’re not worthy of those same privileges. It’s degrading.

Bad at filling out bios seeks same.

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