By James Higdon,
MOREHEAD, Ky. — Square in the middle of embattled Rowan County is this college town in the Appalachian foothills — home to Morehead State University, a population that swells by 10,000 with the start of each school year, and an active LGBT community.
Beyond the city limits, nearly two-thirds of the county is protected wilderness inside the Daniel Boone National Forest. Small, tightknit communities carry on an Appalachian tradition that has largely resisted change for decades, including followers of the Apostolic Christian faith.
For years, gay members of the university community and Apostolic Christians have tip-toed around each other.
But the Supreme Court’s decision in June in favor of same-sex marriage made a collision perhaps inevitable, as the only thing standing in the way of gays who wanted to marry was the signature of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, a member of the Apostolic Church. Her refusal to sign the marriage licenses since June has landed her in jail for contempt of a federal court. Her case is on appeal.
After the ruling, a handful of conservative county clerks in Kentucky sounded the alarm, realizing it would fall on them to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, an idea they abhorred. But unlike in Rowan County, there is no LGBT community to speak of in those other rural areas — few if any gay couples to demand that the county clerk comply with the Supreme Court ruling.
On Friday, the Rowan County clerk’s office issued marriage certificates to at least five same-sex couples. The documents did not bear Kim Davis’s name and were signed by a deputy clerk.
“This is our civil right,” said April Miller, a professor of education at Morehead State, when she and her partner, Karen Roberts, emerged from the county courthouse with a marriage certificate.
Davis’s backers in Rowan County have characterized the university as an outside force, a troublemaking interloper.
“This community isn’t divided. This community is united,” said Pastor Randy Smith, a supporter of Kim Davis. “The division comes — no disrespect — from Morehead State University.”
But Wayne Andrews, president of Morehead State University, disagreed: “I don’t think this issue is dividing our community.”
In a statement to the Morehead News, he said, “We believe elected officials should obey the …Read More
In Kentucky college town, license issue divides gay and church communities – Washington Post
By James Higdon,