NEWS: A Kentucky county clerk, defying a new U.S. Supreme Court decision, has rejected requests for marriage licenses from two same-sex couples.
Citing her religious objections, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has refused to issue any marriage licenses since the Supreme Court in ruled in June 2015 that same-sex couples had the right to marry under the U.S. Constitution.
The same court rejected Davis’ request for an emergency order allowing her to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples while she appealed a federal judge’s order requiring her to issue them.
Eight people filed a federal lawsuit against Davis in July 2015 challenging her office’s policy of not issuing marriage licenses to any couples — gay or straight.
U.S. District Judge David Bunning, who said Davis had to live up to her responsibilities as county clerk despite her religious convictions, has scheduled a call with Davis’ attorneys and those for the couples who sued the clerk, attorney Joe Dunman said.
Dunman said Davis’ office rejected a request on 1 September 2015 for a marriage license from same-sex couple April Miller and Karen Ann Roberts, his clients and one of several couples who had sued Davis’s office.
Will Smith and James Yates, another same-sex couple, also were denied a license that day, their attorney Kash Stilz said.
Neither Davis’ office nor her attorneys could be reached immediately for comment, but Kentucky Public Radio quoted her as saying that she made the decision to continue denying marriage licenses “under God’s authority.”
Davis also told a gay couple she turned away, “I just want you all to know that we are not issuing marriage licenses today,” according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
She said her office would go on denying marriage licenses pending an appeal to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the newspaper reported.
Bunning previously issued a preliminary injunction requiring the clerk to issue marriage licenses, but stayed that pending her appeal to the appeals court, which then rejected her request for a permanent stay saying she had little chance of prevailing.
Couples in the case intend to file a document with Bunning accusing Davis of being in contempt of court, Dunman said.
A spokeswoman for Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway said that his office is reviewing a request for a special prosecutor to determine if Davis committed official misconduct.
Davis contends that to approve marriage licenses for same-sex applicants would violate her deeply held religious belief that matrimony is between one man and one woman.
Update: On 3 September 2015, Davis was jailed for contempt of court:
The clerk, Kim Davis of Rowan County, was jailed after a hearing before Judge David L. Bunning of Federal District Court. The contempt finding was another legal defeat for Ms. Davis, who has argued that she should not be forced to issue licenses that conflict with her religious beliefs.
“The court cannot condone the willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order,” Judge Bunning said. “If you give people the opportunity to choose which orders they follow, that’s what potentially causes problems.”
Judge Bunning ordered Davis “be released once she agreed to comply with his order and issue the marriage licenses.”