Kentucky County Clerk Defies Federal Court Order To Issue Marriage Licenses To Same-Sex Couples

Kentucky County Clerk Defies Federal Court Order To Issue Marriage Licenses To Same-Sex Couples

UPDATE: Lawyer Laura Landenwich, representing the couples, said Thursday afternoon they are considering asking a judge to hold County Clerk Kim Davis in contempt.

A contempt charge could carry a hefty fine or even the threat of jail time.


Yesterday, a federal judge ordered County Clerk Kim Davis of Kentucky, to issue marriage licenses to couples regardless of gender. Davis had earlier this year refused a local same-sex couple, citing her religious beliefs. The couple, David Moore and David Ermold, joined four other couples and sued.

This morning, Moore and Ermold applied for a marriage license and were again denied by a deputy in Davis’ office.

“Deputy clerk Nathan Davis says the office was advised by its attorneys with the Christian law firm Liberty Counsel to continue refusing same-sex couples as it appeals the ruling to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals,” the AP reports.

More from Buzzfeed:

In his order regarding Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, U.S. District Court Judge David L. Bunning stated on Wednesday that the government “is not asking her to condone same-sex unions on moral or religious grounds, nor is it restricting her from engaging in a variety of religious activities.”

“She is even free to believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman, as many Americans do,” the order continued. “However, her religious convictions cannot excuse her from performing the duties that she took an oath to perform as Rowan County Clerk.”

In a case brought by four couples who had sought marriage licenses in Rowan County, Davis argued that anyone on her staff issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples would violate her religious conscience. Kentucky requires the head clerk’s name to appear on all marriage license forms that come from their office. Davis argued that her name on those forms created a type of endorsement of same-sex couples marrying, which infringed on her faith.

Davis said couples seeking a marriage license could travel to another county.

But Bunning countered that approach in a 28-page order: “The form does not require the county clerk to condone or endorse same-sex marriage on religious or moral grounds. It simply asks the county clerk to certify that the information provided is accurate and that the couple is qualified to marry under Kentucky law. Davis’ religious convictions have no bearing on this purely legal inquiry.”

Bunning also noted that Davis took an oath to uphold the Constitution, but that her “actions have not been consistent with her words.”

“Davis has refused to comply with binding legal jurisprudence, and in doing so, she has likely violated the constitutional rights of her constituents,” Bunning wrote.

Bunning also found barring state couples from obtaining licenses served no state interest:

Even if plaintiffs are able to obtain licenses elsewhere, why should they be required to? The state has long entrusted county clerks with the task of issuing marriage licenses. It does not seem unreasonable for plaintiffs, as Rowan County voters, to expect their elected official to perform her statutorily assigned duties. And yet, that is precisely what Davis is refusing to do.

Our form of government will not survive unless we, as a society, agree to respect the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions, regardless of our personal opinions. Davis is certainly free to disagree with the court’s opinion, as many Americans likely do, but that does not excuse her from complying with it. To hold otherwise would set a dangerous precedent.