same-sex marriage

Kentucky Clerk Asks Court to Dismiss Gay Marriage Lawsuit

Jun 21, 2016
Ryland Barton

A Kentucky clerk who spent five days in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples is asking a federal appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit against her.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis says a new state law taking effect next month should be applied retroactively.

Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling effectively legalized gay marriage last year. Two gay couples and two straight couples sued her. A federal judge ordered herto issue the licenses, but she refused and went to jail.

The Kentucky legislature approved a new law in April removing the county clerks' names and authorizations from state marriage licenses. Davis said the law accommodates her religious beliefs and makes the lawsuit against her unnecessary.

A hearing has been set for next month.

Judge: Kim Davis Obeying Orders In Gay Marriage Case

Feb 10, 2016
Ryland Barton

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Kentucky clerk Kim Davis has obeyed his orders in the months since she spent five nights in jail for refusing to license same-sex marriages.

United States District Judge David Bunning wrote that Davis has allowed her deputies to issue marriage licenses and dismissed a request from the American Civil Liberties Union to consider ordering her to reissue licenses she altered to remove her name.

After the United States Supreme Court legalized gay marriage last summer, Davis refused to allow her office to issue marriage licenses. She relented during a turbulent court battle, but altered the licenses.

The ACLU asked the judge to make her reissue the marriage licenses.

Bunning on Tuesday found that request to be “moot”; he said the altered licenses are valid.

Flickr/Creative Commons/JoshuaMHoover

A federal judge awarded a team of Kentucky attorneys more than $1 million for their role in the landmark United States Supreme Court case that struck down bans on same-sex marriage.

The state will have to pick up the $1.1 million tab.

The lawsuit was initiated by Louisville couples at first seeking the state to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. Later, same-sex couples seeking the ability to be married in Kentucky joined the suit.

In 2014, U.S. District Judge John Heyburn ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Attorney General Jack Conway refused to appeal. But former Gov. Steve Beshear hired outside attorneys to continue defending the ban.

The case, and others like it, made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which effectively legalized same-sex marriage last summer.

U.S. District Judge Charles R. Simpson ordered Wednesday that the losing party, the state, will have to pay the fees and expenses for attorneys who fought successfully on behalf of Kentucky gay couples.

The plaintiffs attorneys included Laura Landenwich, Dan Canon, Dawn Elliott, Joe Dunman and Shannon Fauver, all based in Louisville.

Ryland Barton

This story has been updated.

A federal judge has ordered Gov. Steve Beshear to weigh in on whether altered marriage licenses issued by Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis are valid.

Last month, the ACLU of Kentucky asked the court to enforce an earlier order for Davis to resume issuing the forms. The ACLU said modifications Davis made to the license after that order rendered the documents invalid.

She refuses to issue marriage licenses personally. She’s said her religious convictions prevent her from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Following the landmark Supreme Court ruling this summer effectively legalizing same-sex marriage, Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses altogether to avoid being accused of discrimination, she said. Last month, U.S. District Judge David Bunning sent Davis to jail for five days after she refused to issue the licenses; she was freed after her deputy clerks resumed issuing the forms.

When she returned to work, Davis removed her own name and title from the license that deputies issued, instead inserting: “Pursuant to Federal Court Order #15-CV-44 DLB.”

In a court filing last month, a lawyer for Deputy Rowan County Clerk Brian Mason questioned the validity of the altered licenses.

Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who spent five days in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, is once again being accused of hampering the processing of marriage forms, according to new court filings.

The court documents, filed by the American Civil Liberty Union attorneys who are representing couples who sued Davis, state that she is not complying with a court order that prohibits her from interfering with deputy clerks when they issue licenses to eligible couples. Davis' actions "render their validity questionable at best," the documents say.

Ryland Barton

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis will be released from an Eastern Kentucky jail, provided she does not interfere with the issuance of marriage licenses by her deputies.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered Davis into the custody of U.S. Marshals on Thursday. Davis had refused to issue marriage licenses since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in June. She’s said issuing the documents to same-sex couples violates her deeply held religious beliefs.

Last month, Bunning ordered Davis to resume issuing marriage licenses, but she remained defiant. Several of the deputy clerks in her office began issuing marriage licenses to all couples on Friday.

On Tuesday, Bunning ordered Davis to be released from the Carter County Detention Center. But he wrote that she could not interfere with her deputy clerks issuing the documents.

Davis’ fight against same-sex marriage has drawn national attention to the small towns of Grayson — where she was jailed — and Morehead, where she works.

On Tuesday, Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz were expected in Grayson.

Matt Bevin, the Republican candidate for governor, has also planned a visit.

Eyder is reporting today from Morehouse, Ky.

In what was an emotional and contentious scene at the Rowan County, Ky., Courthouse this morning, one dramatic legal standoff came to an end when a gay couple was issued a marriage license.

James Yates and William Smith, who had tried this five times before, arrived at the courthouse just as the sun started peeking out from under the mountains on the horizon.

They walked past protesters — some condemning them and some cheering them — and entered the clerk's office.

Update 6:21 p.m.: Gov. Beshear Again Says No To Special Session For Clerks Bill

In a statement released Thursday evening, Gov. Steve Beshear again said he would not call a special session for the General Assembly to consider legislation that would relieve county clerks of the obligation to issue marriage licenses.

The legislative effort, which has support in both political parties, is a response to Kim Davis’ ongoing refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

A federal judge ordered a defiant county clerk to jail for contempt Thursday after she insisted that it would violate her conscience to follow court orders to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

Rowan County clerk Kim Davis and her deputy clerks were summoned to appear before U.S. District Judge David Bunning after she repeatedly denied them marriage licenses, cited her religious beliefs and “God’s authority.”

Ryland Barton

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis will be back in federal court Thursday morning in Ashland. For the past several days, she has defied a federal judge's order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying her religious views prevent her from signing off on them.

An appeals court and the U.S. Supreme Court have declined to interject on her behalf. So today's hearing will determine whether Davis is in contempt of U.S. District Judge David Bunning's order last month to resume issuing marriage licenses. She could be fined or even put in jail.

This week, Davis spent much of her days with her office door shut and the blinds down, avoiding people and the media spotlight.

Under normal circumstances, Davis' is responsible for mundane tasks — vehicle registration renewals, running elections — for a county of fewer than 24,000 residents. But this summer, she's found herself at the center of a national controversy.

So who is Kim Davis?

The 49-year-old Democrat was first elected to this post in November. She replaced her mother, Jean Bailey, who served as county clerk for 37 years.

Ludovic Bertron, Wikimedia Commons

The controversy continues to swirl around Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis and her repeated defying of court orders to issue marriage licenses based on her religious opposition to gay marriage. 

The director of The Fairness Campaign in Kentucky Chris Hartman was in Rowan County this week when several couples were denied marriage licenses and saw how devastated they were. 

“It’s a dehumanizing, demeaning and demoralizing feeling to be told over and over and over again that you are so different and I am so opposed to you that I simply cannot give you the basic right the Supreme Court of the United States has twice affirmed you deserve,” said Hartman.

Hartman said there are only three county clerks refusing to issue marriage licenses out of the 120 clerks in the state. He said he thinks that if those three clerks can’t do their jobs, they should step aside. 

“They’re getting paid to do a job," said Hartman. "They were elected to do that job. The folks of Rowan County and everywhere else deserve to have their basic rights met and these marriage licenses delivered and if they can’t do they need to step aside and let someone who fulfill their role who can.”

Kim Davis and the six deputy clerks in Rowan County have been summoned to a contempt hearing Thursday in Ashland.

Defying legal decisions that go all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Ky.., clerk, continued to deny marriage licenses on Wednesday in protest of same-sex marriage.

As Kentucky Public Radio's Ryland Barton reports, Davis, who has become a divisive figure in the national debate on same-sex marriage, has been summoned to a federal court on Thursday for a hearing on whether to hold her in contempt.

With that, here's what we know about Davis:

Update 9:10 p.m.: Beshear’s Statement

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Steve Beshear said “117 of our 120 county clerks are following the law and carrying out their duty to issue marriage licenses regardless of gender.”

Here’s his full statement:

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis continues to deny marriage licenses to couples, one day after the Supreme Court refused to stay a decision ordering her to do so. As a result, Davis now risks being held in contempt of a federal court order.

Rowan County residents David Moore and David Ermold were again denied a marriage license at the Rowan County Clerk’s office Tuesday morning. County Clerk Kim Davis says God’s authority permits her to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She’s also refusing to issue licenses to heterosexual couples to avoid being accused of discrimination, she says.

“I’m willing to face my consequences as you all will face your consequences when it comes time for judgment,” Davis said.

Late Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Davis's appeal of a preliminary injunction to resume issuing marriage licenses. Davis stopped issuing the forms after the high court legalized same-sex marriage in June. Davis could now be held in contempt of U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning’s order to resume issuing marriage licenses.

The Morehead News

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis will have to resume issuing marriage licenses while she is being sued by four local couples who were denied licenses, according to a ruling Wednesday from the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Davis’ defense team is appealing that decision.

In its ruling, the three-judge appeals court panel said there was “little or no likelihood that the Clerk in her official capacity will prevail on appeal.”

Davis’ defense lawyers say they will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

Davis is represented by Liberty Counsel, a non-profit law firm that specializes in religious freedom cases. Its founder and chairman, Mat Staver, says that even though she’s a government official, Davis’ religious freedoms should be upheld. “The implication is that if you work at a government agency you don’t have any religious freedom rights. If that’s the implication that’s staggering and that’s a startling proposition.”

Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses after the Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage.

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