Another official joins the cause, refusing to issue certificates
She’s not backing down.
In spite of another court ruling Wednesday, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis is still refusing to issue marriage licenses because she would have to violate her Christian faith.
That’s because since June 26, when the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay “marriage,” Davis now must also issue licenses to same-sex couples.
A federal appeals court upheld a ruling ordering Davis to issue licenses to same-sex couples, rejecting her claims that her Christian faith and constitutional right to religious freedom should exempt her from having to license a union that she finds morally objectionable, the Associated Press reported.
U.S. District Judge David Bunning had already 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.
Mat Staver, an attorney for Davis, said he plans to file an emergency petition with the U.S. Supreme Court and ask them to extend the delay of the judges’ order until the appeal is completed, a process that could take several months.
“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,” Staver said. “They don’t lose their individual constitutional rights just because they are employed in a public office.”
On Saturday, Davis spoke to thousands of supporters at a religious freedom rally at the state capitol, saying: “I need your prayers … to continue to stand firm in what we believe.”
“Regardless of what any man puts on a piece of paper, the law of nature is not going to change,” Davis told the crowd.
Davis has said she will not resign. She can only be removed from office if the state Legislature impeaches her, which is unlikely, AP said. If she continues to defy a federal court order, a judge could hold her in contempt and order hefty fines or jail time.
Meanwhile, another Kentucky clerk is also refusing to issue marriage licenses, calling the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex “marriage” a “war on Christianity,” National Public Radio reported. On a West Virginia morning radio show, Casey County Clerk Casey Davis (no relation to Kim) said he was willing to “fight and die” for his cause.
“Our law says ‘one man and one woman,’ and that is what I held my hand up and took an oath to and that is what I expected,” Davis told WVHU.
But a deputy clerk in Davis’ office told Smith and Yates on Thursday that the office believes Bunning’s delay remains in effect until Aug. 31. He refused to give his name or give them a license.
Davis, meanwhile, sat in her office with the door closed. She talked on the phone, ignoring the commotion as the couples, trailed by activists and reporters, poured in through the door and demanded answers. Later, she temporarily closed her office for “computer upgrades,” said a note posted on her door. The note indicated the office would reopen in an hour.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued Davis last month on behalf of April Miller and Karen Roberts, a second gay couple and two straight couples.
Miller said they felt vindicated by the federal court ruling. They got out the boxes holding their matching wedding bands, bought days after the Supreme Court’s decision in June. They are simple white gold bands, ringed in diamonds.
“One step closer,” Miller said. “We might be able to get married in September.”
It’s unclear how Davis would react if she were to ultimately lose her appeals. She testified in federal court last month she would “deal with that when the time comes.”
William Sharp, legal director of the ACLU of Kentucky, said he believes the case “is simple.
“Religious liberty certainly does not allow public officials to deny government services to the public based on their personal beliefs,” Sharp wrote in a statement. “All that Davis is required to do in her official capacity as clerk is issue a form. In no way is she being forced to endorse anyone’s marriage or beliefs.”
Miller and Roberts said they know the legal fight will stretch on. Davis continued to refuse to issue marriage licenses even after Bunning ordered her two weeks ago to do so. The couple expects she will continue to refuse.