Judge orders Ky. clerk to appear in court after she again denies marriage licenses (w/video)

Published September 1 2015

MOREHEAD, Ky. — A federal judge has ordered Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to appear in his courtroom Thursday and explain why she should not be held in contempt of court, according to Rowan County Attorney Cecil Watkins. All of Davis' deputy clerks are to join her, Watkins said.

Early Tuesday, Davis told two couples who asked for marriage licenses that she would not issue them, despite a federal court injunction ordering her to do so.

In a brief but tense encounter between Davis and a couple dozen marriage-equality demonstrators who crowded into her office, the clerk repeatedly said she was not issuing licenses.

"Under whose authority?" someone in the crowd asked Davis.

"God's authority," she responded.

"I'm willing to face my consequences and you all will face your consequences when it comes time for judgment," she said. "Plain and simple."

Lawyers for local couples who are suing Davis, demanding marriage licenses, quickly filed a motion asking U.S. District Judge David Bunning to find the clerk in contempt of court and fine her.

"Plaintiffs do not seek to compel Davis' compliance through incarceration," wrote William Sharp, legal director for the ACLU of Kentucky, which represents the couples.

"Since defendant Davis continues to collect compensation from the commonwealth for duties she fails to perform, plaintiffs urge the court to impose financial penalties sufficiently serious and increasingly onerous to compel Davis' immediate compliance without further delay," Sharp wrote.




Outside the Rowan County courthouse, more than 100 protesters - some supporting Davis, others opposing her - shouted slogans at one another from across the entryway. Sheriff's deputies stood and watched, but there were no arrests.

"This is a circus. I don't think anybody should have to go through this just to get a piece of paper saying you're married," said David Moore, one of the men seeking a license. "I shouldn't have to remember this as the story of how I got married."

While he was inside Davis' office, Moore asked Rowan County Sheriff Jack Carter to arrest the clerk for refusing to obey the law. The sheriff declined, telling Moore it was a matter for the federal courts, not for local law enforcement.

Davis has refused to issue any marriage licenses in Rowan County since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in June. Bunning has ordered her to resume on Aug. 12, an order she unsuccessfully appealed to the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and, over the weekend, to the Supreme Court.

©2015 Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.)