not “burdening” my religious practice.

1 Mar

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 Responses to “not “burdening” my religious practice.”

  1. Peggy Storm-Muller March 1, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

    YEAH Dawn!!!!!

    Peggy Muller

    502-689-0909 (cell) “Optimists aren’t always happy, but they always think they might be soon.”

    Date: Fri, 1 Mar 2013 18:52:15 +0000 To:

  2. Trish Ramey March 1, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

    Amen and Hallelujah!!

  3. Del Ramey March 1, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    This is a beautiful idea!! Couple willing, please let the entire congregation know about the event. Would love to take pictures!

    Del Ramey

  4. FD March 1, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    Smack, consider yourself laid down. 🙂 Way to be.

  5. Cynthia Landrum March 1, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    Awesome, Dawn!

  6. Claudia Runge March 1, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

    Yes! I wonder if the Board should send a letter supporting yours.

    • Rev. Dawn March 1, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

      I think that that would not hurt!!! What a great idea!

      • Del Ramey March 1, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

        How about sending original and board letter to news media? Was Fairness Campaign copied?


  7. Lois Allen March 8, 2013 at 9:55 am #

    Yeah, Dawn! You have my full support.

  8. Henry Austin March 8, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    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.

  9. Nancy Fox James March 8, 2013 at 10:06 am #


  10. Brittany Blau March 8, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    I’d be happy to sing your happy weddings!

  11. James Phillips March 8, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

    Excellent! Make sure there are media present!

  12. Allen Kirkwood March 27, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    Awesome! Thank you.

  13. Heather Van De Sande March 28, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    This is the most awesome thing I’ve read all week. *slow standing hand clap*

  14. Rev. Dawn March 29, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    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

  15. skeptik0 April 11, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    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.

    • Rev. Dawn April 11, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

      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.

  16. Suzanne Ray April 11, 2013 at 7:07 pm #

    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!

  17. Ann Deibert April 11, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

    Brilliant, Dawn!


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    […] Not burdening my religious practices […]

  2. HB 279 and the Law of Unintended Consequences | Freethoughtify - April 3, 2013

    […] Sources: Kentucky legislature overrides governor’s veto of ‘religious freedom’ bill Governor’s Veto Falls. HB 279 Passes in Kentucky Not “burdening” my religious practice […]

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