Florida’s Liberty Counsel reps Kentucky clerk in same-sex marriage standoff


Florida attorney Roger Gannam, who spoke out against adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the Atlantic Beach human rights ordinance in 2014, is now involved with the defense of a Kentucky county clerk who has religious objections to marrying same-sex couples.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to issue licenses to two gay couples. However, he also stayed his decision while Davis takes her case to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Representing Davis is the Orlando-based Liberty Counsel. The organization bills itself on its website as “an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.”

However, North Florida LGBT activists are quick to point out that Liberty Counsel is also listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“It’s unfortunate but unsurprising to see Roger Gannam defending anti-gay bigotry in Kentucky,” said Northeast Florida LGBT PAC Chair Jimmy Midyette.

“In both 2012 in Jacksonville and 2014 in Atlantic Beach, Mr. Gannam portrayed himself as merely a concerned citizen when he opposed adding sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to local human rights ordinances.  We now know that he is on the payroll of Liberty Counsel, an organization identified as a hate group by the highly regarded Southern Poverty Law Center.

“This knowledge is useful as it will allow us to properly characterize and understand his motivation to oppose LGBT nondiscrimination ordinances in Jacksonville, should he again do so.”

Liberty Counsel’s position: “To issue a license for same-sex marriage violates the core of Kim Davis’s Christian beliefs. This is not tangential to her beliefs but rather amounts to open disobedience to God. There are alternative ways to accommodate the religious conviction of Kim Davis, and that is what we will ask the Court of Appeals to consider,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman.

Melissa Ross

In addition to her work writing for Florida Politics, Melissa Ross also hosts and produces WJCT’s First Coast Connect, the Jacksonville NPR/PBS station’s flagship local call-in public affairs radio program. The show has won four national awards from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). First Coast Connect was also recognized in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 as Best Local Radio Show by Folio Weekly’s “Best Of Jax” Readers Poll and Melissa has also been recognized as Folio Weekly’s Best Local Radio Personality. As executive producer of The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State, Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the “Documentary” category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards. The 904 examined Jacksonville’s status as Florida’s murder capital. During her years in broadcast television, Melissa picked up three additional Emmys for news and feature reporting. Melissa came to WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. Married with two children, Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism/Communications. She can be reached at [email protected].


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