Two counties in Missouri are not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and one of them is citing a religious objection.
LGBT advocacy group PROMO says officials in Schuyler County are citing religious reasons for not issuing licenses in such cases. Recorder of Deeds Linda Blessing declined to comment, even to verify that she is declining to issue licenses.
PROMO says Schuyler County has refused to issue licenses to same-sex couples out of a violation of conscience, and said, “We think the Supreme Court is trying to play God.”
In Cape Girardeau County, Recorder of Deeds Drew Blattner told Missourinet affiliate KZIM his lawyers advised him to wait until 25 days have passed since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Friday.
“The decision takes place 25 days after the date that it’s decided in case there’s a motion to reconsider or if there’s any further deliberations,” said Blattner, “So it’s best just to hold off ’till the end, because it’ll be settled once and for all.”
The legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, Tony Rothert, said his organization is waiting to take action against both counties.
“We are ready to represent someone who is turned away in any Missouri county. They have a right to a marriage license. The Supreme Court’s made that clear,” Rothert told Missourinet. “We think that we’d be able to get an injunction requiring the recorders to follow the Constitution right away.”
Rothert says the 25-day wait does not relieve a recorder of deeds from following the Constitution.
PROMO Director A.J. Bockelman says any official with a religious objection to a procedure he or she is called to carry out as an employee of a state office must still carry out that duty.
“They are required to perform those basic functions,” said Bockelman. “It’s not necessarily that they’re issuing a judgment or a statement in support. It’s simply issuing a document that is a legal document that the individuals have a right to have.”
Any complaint brought against either county would have to originate with a couple who is denied a marriage license. A PROMO spokesperson says a couple has been turned away in Schuyler County, but doesn’t want to pursue the matter legally “out of fear.”