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Judge Jails Kentucky Clerk For Refusing Marriage Licenses

Kim Davis
Ryland Barton
Kentucky Public Radio
Kim Davis, the Rowan County Clerk of Courts, listens to Robbie Blankenship and Jesse Cruz as they speak with her about getting a marriage license at the County Clerks Office on September 2, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky.

A federal judge ordered a defiant county clerk to jail for contempt Thursday after she insisted that it would violate her conscience to follow court orders to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

Rowan County clerk Kim Davis and her deputy clerks were summoned to appear before U.S. District Judge David Bunning after she repeatedly denied them marriage licenses, cited her religious beliefs and “God’s authority.”

Gay couples have gone to Rowan County in recent days in an effort to obtain a marriage license from Kim Davis, but to no avail.

Robbie Blankenship, and his partner Jesse Cruz, from Columbus, are one of those couples. They spoke with WOSU reporter Mandie Trimble.

The below transcript is an automated transcript of the conversation, please excuse any and all minor errors or typos.

Mandie Trimble: So Robbie you and Jesse could have easily gotten a marriage license here in Franklin County, What motivated you to go to Rowan County?

Robbie Blankenship: I could have easily gotten married yes, in the state of Ohio. Actually, I don't because I haven't tried as far as I know there's no opposition in the state of Ohio the reason I come to Kentucky is because I want to get married in the same place as my parents were married. 

The United States Supreme Court has made clear that I have a right to marry anywhere I wish, I came here specifically because of her opposition and I was hoping that I could get through that opposition have her see a same-sex couple that's been together for twenty years, they clearly love each other, have a rational conversation with her but none of that happened, we were flat out rejected.

MT: Did you get to have any kind of extended conversation with Kim Davis at all?

RB: I did. I spoke with Kim Davis, I basically asked why does she have an objection to our marriage, she cited for Biblical reasons, I did tried to rationalize with her even explaining that this is a secular institution, this is a civil marriage we're asking for not a religious institution.

MT: She has said Robbie that it's a religious objection, you just mentioned, that to to issuing a marriage license to same sex couple. Do you understand the religious objection that she had? was

RB: I come from a very religious family I mean religious belief, I understand what she's saying, I disagree with what she is saying. She doesn't follow her own standard from the very Bible. She is on her fourth marriage, so she's not holding herself to the standards that she wishes to hold Jessie and I to. 

MT: You know I'm sure you did not really expect to walk away with a license maybe maybe you did you know you said earlier that you had hoped to maybe get something through but I'm sure that you had prepared yourself that it wouldn't happen. I've read a couple of articles that that you became emotional when you were denied the marriage license did you think you would have that kind of reaction?

RB: Our love is real and I'm an emotional person and I try to hold in my emotions the best that I can but when you have somebody turn their back on a twenty-year relationship that is just as much as loving as anybody else's relationship yeah that was very emotional for me.

MT: There was a case recently in Bexley where a business declined to provide services to a same-sex couple do you see that as being any different than what Kim Davis is doing?

RB: No that is no different because they are not operating in a religious capacity. If they were operating in a religion capacity, you know such as maybe a Catholic charity or something... I might understand. When you turn away a thing sex couple, and cite your religious beliefs I do not see that as any different than turning away an interracial couple or asking a person of color to use a different water fountain or different bathroom it's all on the same vein.

MT: Robbie Blankenship thanks so much for the time today we do appreciate it. Thank you so much.