not “burdening” my religious practice.

Dear KY House of Representatives, Senate, and Gov. Beshear,

I would like to inform you of a perhaps unintended repercussion of the passage of  HB 279, which reads:

Government shall not burden a person’s or religious organization’s freedom of religion. The right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief may not be burdened unless the government proves by clear and convincing evidence that it has a compelling governmental interest in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restrictive means to further that interest. A “burden” shall include indirect burdens such as withholding benefits, assessing penalties, or an exclusion from programs or access to facilities.

As soon as this bill passes into law, I will officially begin conducting weddings and signing marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples, as is standard practice in my religion.  It will be my right to act in this manner, in accordance to my faith.  If a county clerk refuses to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, I will have him/her cited for burdening my freedom of religion, but I am sure I will be able to find at least one who will understand and sympathize and act in accordance with the law.


The Rev. Dawn Cooley
First Unitarian Church
Louisville, KY

24 thoughts on “not “burdening” my religious practice.

  1. Henry Austin says:

    I imagine that your plan was not anticipated by those who believe through this law that they can evade the will of the people who have supported Fairness measures. The new law seems to be nothing but a way to justify discrimination. Thank you for your stance Dawn.

  2. A quick update. I have recently learned that State law says any clerk who knowingly issues a marriage license to a same-sex couple, in violation of the KY State Constitution that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by as much as a year in jail and removal from office.

    This is a large hurdle in my plan, but I am not giving up. Next week I will be contacting various legal advice and sympathetic elected officials and seeking their guidance and suggestions.

    In the meantime, send your love and support to Bojangles and Dominique who will be going to court shortly after their January attempt to get a marriage license (and subsequent arrest.) More info at

  3. OK, so they have another repressive law in the books to prevent clerks from issuing marriage licenses.

    There has to be several other ways to turn this law on its head. This is the type of law bigots pass because they cannot see beyond their nose and faith, just like the other nincompoop that sponsored a school voucher law to privilege religious schools and was horrified when Muslim schools applied. It just never occurred to her.

    Good luck with all you do. You’ll see, one day even your state will join us in the IXX Century.

    • Thanks! And I agree – there are lots of other ideas that are worth pursuing as well. I am not giving up. There are many, many of us here in KY who are not giving up.

  4. Suzanne Ray says:

    Dawn, you just got me to encourage my gay daughter to go to church for the first time – I went and found a UU church near the university she’ll be attending the in fall. Thank you for speaking up, and in so awesome a way!

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