The setting for the resolution of this conundrum arises from within the lower and most ministerial of the rungs of government administration within the States of our federal union. The clerks of several jurisdictions, most famously now those of the state of Kentucky, has declared their refusal to perform their obligations to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. That objection is not grounded on the power of the state to issue such licenses, or of the right, under the secular laws of Kentucky (now mandated in a sense by federal constitutional guarantees) of same sex couples to marry. Rather is is grounded int he personal right of individual clerks to avoid complying with their duties of office on the basis of personal religious objection.
Rowen County clerk Kim Davis, who objects to gay marriage for religious reasons, asked the nation's highest court Friday to grant her "asylum for her conscience." . . . . She stopped issuing all marriage licenses in the days after the Supreme Court's landmark decision. . . . A federal judge ordered Davis to issue the license and an appeals court upheld that decision. . . . Forcing her to abandon her Christian principles and issue licenses could never be undone, her attorney, Jonathan D. Christman, with the Christian law firm Liberty Counsel, wrote the court. (Kentucky Clerk Asks Supreme Court to Intervene in Gay Marriage Case, Associated Press via NBC News, September 1, 2015)That plea was rejected by the Supreme Court on August 31, 2015. "Davis is now faced with a lower court order that her office begin issuing licenses effective Monday. The order marks the first time the issue of same-sex marriage has come back to the justices since they issued an opinion last June clearing the way for same-sex couples to marry nationwide" (Ariane de Vogue and Jeremy Diamond, SCOTUS: Kentucky clerk must issue same-sex marriage licenses, CNN Politics, August 31, 2015). She continues to refuse to issue marriage licenses as of September 1, 2015 (Kentucky Clerk Again Denies Gay Couples Marriage Licenses, The New York Times, Sept. 1, 2015 ("According to news reports on Tuesday, Ms. Davis has again refused to issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples.").
Whatever the decision of the courts, the European Court of Human Rights has also recently had cause to consider similar claims under the protections of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. This point includes relevant text of a recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights, Eweida and Others v. The United Kingdom (May 27, 2013). In which the Court rejected, under the European Convention, similar claims on the part of government employees.