- Associated Press - Monday, July 13, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Several Arkansas pastors are opting out of performing gay marriages since last month’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized them.

Pastor D.R. “Barney” Hickman of the Newton County Cowboy Church told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1L2hEfW ) that he doesn’t have anything against people who are gay, but that it conflicts with his religion to marry same-sex couples.

He was one of several ministers who told the Boone County clerk that they wanted to be removed from a reference list of wedding officiants. That list used to have a dozen names, but it has since dwindled to two after the court’s decision on June 26.

Baptist minister Freda Kimmey asked to remain on the list, and said that she’ll perform same-sex ceremonies. But she added that the couple will have to undergo some counseling first, which she requires before performing any marriage service.

“If you’re really a spiritual person, it’s all about love and embracing each other, regardless of labels,” she said.

In Carroll County, more than 40 marriage licenses have been issued to same-sex couples. County Clerk Jamie Correia said she doesn’t keep a list of officiants for people looking to get married, but refers them to the area Chamber of Commerce.

In Garland County, the clerk’s office had a list of 16 officiants on its website, but County Clerk Sarah Smith removed the list on Thursday, at least for the time being.

Smith said she knew of only two people on the list who she was sure would perform a same-sex marriage ceremony. She said she didn’t want to recommend a minister who won’t perform a same-sex marriage.

Last week, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement that the court’s ruling doesn’t apply to religious organizations.

“The ability of pastors, churches, and private individuals to follow their own convictions on marriage is protected under the First Amendment and has not been affected by the Supreme Court’s ruling,” Hutchinson said.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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