James Yates and William Smith Jr. were turned away by a deputy clerk in Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ office Thursday morning when they asked for a marriage license. U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered Davis to issue marriage licenses two weeks ago. Davis has not issued licenses for two months since same-sex marriage was declared legal by the U.S.
Supreme Court. Then, to prove she’s really serious about all this, she and her lawyers decided to petition the US Supreme Court, asking it to delay the federal judge’s decision until her appeal is finished, a process that could take months. She has told the courts and state officials in Kentucky that she is an Apostolic Christian who is opposed to same-sex marriage as a matter of faith.
The Supreme Court ruled in June that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. “No authority exists for her removal or suspension from the office by Rowan County government”, said County Attorney Cecil Watkins. The couple expects she will continue to refuse.
Rowan County Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis speaks to a gathering of supporters at the Kentucky State Capitol Saturday, August 22, 2015.
If she continues to defy court orders, the couples’ attorneys are likely to ask Bunning to hold her in contempt of court. The law offers the judge wide discretion on how to force her hand: he can sanction her with fines or order she be jailed.
Several couples said they plan to return to the courthouse next week to try again for a license. Miller read the ruling on her phone in the living room of the house they share down a country road on the outskirts of Morehead. Davis appears to consider such participation irredeemably sinful: “If it happened, there is no absolution or correction that any earthly court can provide to rectify”, SCOTUSBlog quotes her complaint as saying.
Davis has said she will not resign from her $80,000-a-year job, and vowed that her office will never license a same-sex marriage.
“I am absolutely amazed and humbled by how many people stand behind us in this”, Coalition Secretary Elect, Nashia Fife, said.
Smith said Davis is now blatantly breaking the law and hiding behind religion to discriminate – the last thing he expected in Rowan County, a county of about 24,000 residents halfway between Lexington, Ky., and Huntington, W.Va., which has always remained open to the LGBT community, he said.
Although they’ve considered getting married in one other county or state prior to now, Smith stated he and Yates needed their marriage to be first formally acknowledged of their hometown and county “the place we reside and”.
“We had talked about doing it before”, Yates said.