By David Esteppe
On Oct. 9, 2014, same-sex marriage became legal in West Virginia and on Oct. 10, 2014, the Greenbrier County Clerk’s office issued the first same-sex marriage license.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey decided to honor the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage and not fight it in court. Since then, there have been no protests in Greenbrier County regarding the law. In fact, there have been approximately 20 same-sex marriage licenses issued in Greenbrier County, according to County Clerk Robin Loudermilk.
Loudermilk says, “The state made a legal decision on one day, and when we came to work the next day our forms for marriage licenses had already been digitally changed from ‘Bride and Groom’ to ‘Partner one and Partner two.’”
Without hesitation, Loudermilk’s clerk’s office complied with the new law.
When asked if she could explain what is happening with the now nationally known controversy in Rowan County, KY, where county clerk Kim Davis has refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses on the basis of her religious beliefs, a choice that landed her in jail for contempt of court last week, Loudermilk concisely explained that her office simply has to follow the law.
Here in West Virginia, she said, if the clerk in a county did not want to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple, it would be a violation of the law. It never crossed anyone’s minds in her office to not follow the law, she said, and added, “If my personal beliefs about a law conflicted with the law, my only recourse would be to resign in order to honor my personal beliefs.”
Meanwhile, in Kentucky, Davis is freed from jail and under the direction of the courts to allow her deputy clerks to sign off on all marriage licenses. The following weeks will reveal whether or not she will follow the orders. But, here in another part of Appalachia, our clerks have been working quietly, with no fanfare, and no protest.
By David Esteppe
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