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KY Clerk Must Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

Tana Weingartner
After a July District Court hearing in Covington Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis listened as her attorney spoke to reporters.

Update 08/13/15: Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis defied a court order Thursday by having her office deny a same-sex couple a marriage license. Several media outlets report a deputy clerk told David Moore, trying to marry his partner of 17 years David Ermold,  the office is still not issuing marriage licenses.

Kentucky Public Radio member station WFPL  reports one of Davis’ attorneys, Roger Gannam, said a notice to appeal the ruling had already been filed with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals late Wednesday. “The effect of this order is the government ordering a person to violate her sincerely-held religious beliefs, and that’s why we are appealing it,” Gannam said.

Original Post: U. S. District Judge David Bunning has issued a preliminary injunction in the case involving a Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk who refused to grant marriage licenses to two same-sex couples and two opposite sex couples. Clerk Kim Davis must now issue marriage licenses to April Miller, Karen Roberts, Jody Fernandez, Kevin Holloway, Barry Spartman, Aaron Skaggs, Shantel Burke and Stephen Napier.

"IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Doc. # 2) against Defendant Kim Davis, in her official capacity as Rowan County Clerk, is hereby granted. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant Kim Davis, in her official capacity as Rowan County Clerk, is hereby preliminarily enjoined from applying her “no marriage licenses” policy to future marriage license requests submitted by Plaintiffs."

The ACLU called it "a victory for our clients and for all of Rowan County."

At a July court hearing Davis said she is an Apostolic Christian and believes that marriage is between one man and one woman. She says she prayed and fasted before making her decision. In court, she argued that by issuing licenses she is saying she approves of same-sex marriage.

"If I authorize (same-sex marriage licenses), I'm saying I agree with that and I can't," she said.

However, Judge Bunning writes in his decision that Davis' religious freedoms are not being infringed.

"(Davis') religious convictions cannot excuse her from performing the duties that she took an oath to perform as Rowan County Clerk. The Court therefore concludes that Davis is unlikely to suffer a violation of her free exercise rights under Kentucky Constitution."

The American Civil Liberties Union sued Davis on behalf of two same-sex and two opposite sex couples. The ACLU says Davis knew about the possibility of the Supreme Court ruling while she was running for the office. She was sworn in January 5, 2015. Attorney Dan Canon questioned whether Davis objected to issuing marriage licenses to people who had been divorced or interracial couples. She replied, "no."

Davis  says she stopped issuing all marriage licenses because she did not want to discriminate against anyone.

At the July 20 hearing Judge Bunning  asked several questions. He seemed interested in the part of the state statute outlining who is authorized to perform marriages in Kentucky. He pointed out that County Clerks are not on the list of people who can perform marriages.

Davis replied that while she does not perform the marriages, her name on the form says she approves of it.

The Rowan County Clerk has filed suit against Governor Steve Beshear claiming that when he ordered all clerks to follow the U.S. Supreme Court ruling he violated her rights.

Rowan County, concerned it might be held liable, has said Davis "does not act on behalf or set policy for, the county."

Read Bunning's full decision below:

Ann Thompson has years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology