Tennessee county names interim clerk after predecessor exits over gay marriage

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 06, 2015 1:56 PM

By Tim Ghianni

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Reuters) - A Tennessee county on Monday named a temporary county clerk after the person in the position resigned rather than issue same-sex marriage licenses that she said violated her religious beliefs.

In Decatur County, 100 miles southwest of Nashville, Tennessee, Mayor Mike Creasy said in a statement on Monday he disagreed with the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling that the U.S. Constitution gives same-sex couples the right to marry, but that he would enforce the law. He appointed Jack Martin to serve as temporary county clerk until the county commission names a permanent successor to Gwen Pope.

The Supreme Court's ruling on June 26 prompted Pope and two staff members to resign in protest.

Creasy said Pope “did not feel like that she could issue marriage licenses to persons of the same sex. Ms. Pope, as a result, tendered her resignation, effective July 5.”

When Pope announced her resignation last week, she told the Jackson Sun she was not doing it to draw attention to herself and her workers.

“It’s for the glory of God,” she said to the newspaper. “I honestly believe God will take care of us.”

The Decatur County Commission will vote on July 13 on the permanent replacement for Pope, the mayor's office said. That person will then fill the other open posts on the staff.

Chris Sanders, Tennessee Equality Project executive director in Nashville, said with this change, no county in the state was refusing to perform same-sex marriages.

One Texas county initially resisted issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples before reversing its decision, while a county clerk in eastern Kentucky was sued last week for refusing to issue marriage licenses to anyone after the ruling.

(Reporting by Tim Ghianni in Nashville, Tennessee; Editing by Ben Klayman and Lisa Lambert)