Thousands gathered at the Capitol in Frankfort Saturday afternoon at a First Amendment Freedom Rally to show their support for three Kentucky county clerks – including Whitley County Clerk Kay Schwartz – who have taken a stand over the issuance of gay marriage licenses because of their Christian religious beliefs.
After the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide on June 26, both Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis and Casey County Clerk Casey Davis quit issuing marriage licenses to anyone, including both straight or gay couples.
The ACLU of Kentucky is currently suing Kim Davis in federal court. Earlier this month U.S. District Judge David Bunning ruled that she couldn’t refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples based on her religious beliefs but he agreed to postpone the implementation of that ruling while Davis’ appeals it to a higher court.
Schwartz so far has refused to order new marriage license forms that could be used by same sex couples. She said that no one has come into the office and asked for a marriage license for a gay couple although there have been some recent telephone inquiries about whether the office had the new forms.
She is taking a wait and see approach regarding ordering the forms and wants to see what the result of the Davis’ appeal is before rethinking how she is approaching the situation.
During the rally, all three clerks were presented plaques by the Family Foundation "in recognition for your valiant and courageous stand for religious freedom."
"This is not an anti gay or anti lesbian rally," Family Foundation Executive Director Kent Ostrander told the crowd Saturday.
Instead, the purpose of the rally was to support religious liberty and freedom of conscience for the county clerks.
"I am truly overwhelmed by this show of support," Kim Davis told the crowd. "I first want to give thanks and praise to God almighty. He is my strength and my comfort … I want to thank you all so much for sacrificing your time and your day to come down and show support. I can’t say a whole lot but I love each and every one of you. I desire your prayers. I need your prayers. We all need your prayers to continue to stand firm in what we believe."
Other people speaking at Saturday’s rally included Republican Gubernatorial nominee Matt Bevin, Republican Attorney General nominee Whitney Westerfield and Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, who represents Whitley County.
Stivers told the crowd that he would support measures next year in the Kentucky Senate to help clerks keep their religious liberty.
Schwartz said that all the speakers impressed her and she briefly addressed the crowd Saturday thanking them for their attendance at the rally and their support.
"I told them that the Lord was my shepherd and we shall not want," she noted.
Schwartz said some reporters, who covered the rally, told her that they estimated the size of the crowd to be between 7,000 and 10,000 people.
Schwartz said she wasn’t surprised by the turnout for the rally.
"Never have I stood alone," Schwartz said. "The Lord has never left my side. Whitley County has rallied around me from the very beginning. They have supported me and the churches have called my name out in prayer and have supported this stand against same sex marriage and I appreciate that from the bottom of my heart."
After Saturday’s rally, Schwartz said she was asked several questions by reporters, one of which was as a public official shouldn’t she be more concerned about being politically correct rather than being biblically correct?
"I said, ‘No. I refuse to adhere to political correctness because political correctness does not have life everlasting but biblically correct does,’" she added.
Schwartz said she and the other two clerks feel that the U.S. Supreme Court has violated several Constitutional rights with its ruling on gay marriage and with efforts to force clerks to issue marriage licenses to gay couples in violation of their religious beliefs.
"To me they are the ones who have broken the law and not the clerks, and have contradicted themselves in several places," Schwartz said.
So what does Schwartz plan to do once her current supply of marriage license forms that can only be utilized by straight couples expires?
"I won’t run out that is a guarantee," she replied.