After being denied five times before, James Yates and William Smith Jr. at 8:15 a.m. today became the first same-sex couple to be married in Rowan County, Ky., The Washington Post reports.
The couple’s legal union signals the end of a months-long a standoff with County Clerk Kim Davis, who refused to issue marriage licenses to anyone in the county, claiming her religious beliefs prevented her from filing papers for same-sex couples,
Davis, who was elected last year as a Democrat, was thrown in jail yesterday following a court hearing in which she remained steadfast in her refusal to perform her job. She remains incarcerated at the Carter County Detention Center, according to the Post.
Yates and Smith were greeted by family members and media following the issuing of their marriage license, reports The Courier-Journal of Louisville. This is the sixth time the men have tried to get married, according to the paper.
“Personal opinions, including my own, are not relevant to today,” U.S. District Judge David Bunning reportedly told Davis and the courtroom Thursday, admonishing her for her refusal to comply with the law. “The idea of natural law superseding this court’s authority would be a dangerous precedent indeed,” he added before jailing her for contempt of court.
Davis’s husband, Joe Davis, called Bunning a bully and said his wife would remain committed to her cause: "She won't resign, I promise you," he said. "Until something gives, she'll be there," he told The Courier-Journal today.
Outside the Rowan County Courthouse, a crowd greeted the newlyweds with a chant: Love has won."
Yates and Smith had previously struggled to obtain a marriage license and fought with for their rights with the same deputy clerk who today issued marriage licenses.
David Moore and David Ermold, another same-sex couple seeking a marriage license, publicly battled Davis in front of the media, demanding their right to be wed and questioning her motives.
Following the release of their video confrontation, the Internet erupted in outrage against Davis, many critics focusing on her appearance and the fact that she had herself wed four times. Comic relief was even provided by a Twitter user claiming to be the woman who sat next to Davis at work.
As The Advocate previously reported, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion on behalf of same-sex couples who sued Davis seeking to have her fined.
Plaintiffs have asked that Davis, who earns $80,000 per year, face escalating financial penalties for refusing to perform her job. She has not issued marriage licenses since the Supreme Court mandated nationwide marriage equality in late June.
April Miller and Karen Roberts were the first couple rejected, followed by Ermold and Moore, who were refused a license three times since same-sex marriage became legal in Kentucky and filed a federal lawsuit against Davis.
Watch The Courier-Journal’s coverage of the scene inside the clerk’s office this morning.