The Jackson County Board of Commissioners opens its public meetings with an invocation delivered by one of its nine Commissioners. The Commissioners—all of whom are Christian—deliver Christian prayers, often in the name of Jesus Christ, and do not allow members of other faiths to lead the prayer. Citizens who attend the meetings in order to petition the Commissioners have little choice but to participate, even if doing so violates their conscience.
For many years, the Brevard County Board of County Commissioners has opened its meetings with an invocation. Between January 2010 and May 2015, 168 invocations were delivered by volunteers invited by the Board, and nearly all the invocations were overtly Christian.
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners opens its public meetings with an invocation given by one of the Commissioners. Ninety-seven percent of these invocations are explicitly Christian, and Commissioners direct the audience to participate in the prayers. The Commissioners have made statements suggesting that the County views non-Christian beliefs with disfavor, and they have created an atmosphere that led to the harassment of religious minorities at Board meetings.
In June 2015, after the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which held that same-sex couples have a constitutionally protected right to marry, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis refused to allow her office to issue marriage licenses to any couple, be they same-sex or different-sex. Davis stated that her religious beliefs forbade her from giving marriage licenses to same-sex couples, so she would not give out any marriage licenses at all.
In November 2014, several same-sex couples challenged the Nebraska laws that limited marriage to opposite-sex couples. In March 2015, the trial court granted a preliminary injunction to the plaintiffs, finding it likely that plaintiffs would prevail on their claim that Nebraska’s marriage laws violated the plaintiffs’ right to equal protection.
Two same-sex couples challenged the Missouri laws that limited marriage to opposite-sex couples. In November 2014, the trial court ruled that Missouri had unconstitutionally denied the fundamental right to marry to same-sex couples.
In March 2012, the Gay & Lesbian Services Organization of Lexington, Kentucky sought to purchase t-shirts from Hands on Originals, a local, for-profit, screen-printing shop. GLSO wanted to have the words “Lexington Pride Festival” and a multi-colored numeral “5” printed on the shirts (the shirts were for the locality’s fifth annual Pride Festival). HOO’s owner, upon learning what the Pride Festival represented, refused to serve the GLSO.
In the 1960s, the City of Grand Haven erected a display pole on a large, publicly-owned sand dune overlooking the City’s waterfront. The pole could be raised or lowered as needed, and it could be fitted with either an anchor or a cross feature. The City equipped the pole with the cross feature both on its own initiative—for example, to celebrate the Christmas season—and at the request of City residents, who could pay a fee to use the cross as a backdrop for events on the waterfront. No other monuments were allowed on the sand dune.
Two same-sex couples challenged the Arkansas marriage laws that limited marriage to between a man and a woman. In November 2014, the trial court struck down these laws as an unconstitutional violation of same-sex couples’ fundamental right to marry.