Stand­off over gay mar­riage li­censes wears on, de­spite supreme court rul­ing


A clerk in a ru­ral Ken­tucky county con­tin­ued to refuse mar­riage li­censes to same-sex cou­ples Thurs­day in de­fi­ance of a mount­ing pile of fed­eral court or­ders that re­ject her claim that her Chris­tian faith should ex­empt her from li­cens­ing a gay union.

The United States Supreme Court, which two months ago le­gal­ized gay mar­riage across the na­tion, will now be asked to con­sider whether Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis can con­tinue to deny mar­riage li­censes un­til her ap­peal is com­plete, a process that could drag out for sev­eral more months.

“It’s get­ting te­dious. We get torn down, built back up, torn down, built back up,” said David Er­mold. He and his part­ner, David Moore, have been re­jected by Davis’ of­fice twice. “It’s emo­tion­ally drain­ing that this keeps hap­pen­ing over and over.”

Days af­ter the Supreme Court’s same-sex mar­riage rul­ing, Davis an­nounced that her re­li­gious con­vic­tions pre­vented her from sanc­tion­ing a gay mar­riage. She re­fused to is­sue li­censes to any cou­ple, gay or straight.

The Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union sued her last month on be­half of four cou­ples. U.S. Dis­trict Judge David Bun­ning or­dered Davis to is­sue mar­riage li­censes two weeks ago. He later de­layed that rul­ing un­til Aug. 31 or un­til the U.S. 6th Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals is­sued a rul­ing. The ap­peals court did so on Wed­nes­day, deny­ing Davis’ ap­peal.

But a deputy clerk in Davis’ of­fice on Thurs­day told Wil­liam Smith Jr. and James Yates, a cou­ple for nearly a decade, the of­fice be­lieves Bun­ning’s de­lay re­mains in ef­fect un­til Aug. 31. He re­fused to give his name or give them a li­cense.

Smith and Yates, re­jected for the third time, left the of­fice shak­ing their heads in anger and be­wil­der­ment.

Davis, mean­while, sat in her of­fice with the door closed. She talked on the phone, ig­nor­ing the com­mo­tion as Yates and Smith, trailed by tele­vi­sion cam­eras, poured in through the door and de­manded an­swers.

“The court of ap­peals did not pro­vide any re­li­gious ac­com­mo­da­tion rights to in­di­vid­u­als, which makes lit­tle sense be­cause at the end of the day it’s in­di­vid­u­als that are car­ry­ing out the acts of the of­fice,” said Mat Staver, whose re­li­gious law firm Lib­erty Coun­sel is rep­re­sent­ing Davis. “They don’t lose their in­di­vid­ual con­sti­tu­tional rights just be­cause they are em­ployed in a public of­fice.”

Staver told The As­so­ci­ated Press he plans to file an emer­gency pe­ti­tion with the Supreme Court on Thurs­day or Fri­day. He wants the court to de­lay the judge’s or­der un­til the ap­peal is com­pleted, a process that could take sev­eral months.

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