Some Kentucky county clerks are still refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but one suffered a major blow in her legal fight today.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejected Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’s request for a stay of the federal district judge’s ruling that ordered her to issue licenses to all eligible couples, The New Civil Rights Movement reports. That means she and her staff, who have been turning away both same-sex and opposite-sex couples, must begin providing licenses Monday.
Davis had sought to stay Judge David Bunning’s order pending appeal, but a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit noted that she is unlikely to prevail on appeal, as the nation’s highest court has made marriage equality the law of the land. “It cannot be defensibly argued that the holder of the Rowan County Clerk’s office, apart from who personally occupies that office, may decline to act in conformity with the United States Constitution as interpreted by a dispositive holding of the United States Supreme Court,” the Sixth Circuit’s decision reads in part.
Davis had been sued by four couples, two same-sex and two opposite-sex, over her refusal to provide marriage licenses, and Bunning ruled that she must perform the duties of her office by issuing the licenses. Representing her in that litigation is the right-wing Liberty Counsel, designated an anti-LGBT hate group by the progressive Southern Poverty Law Center. Davis has been much in the news over her resistance; video of some couples being turned away has circulated widely on the Internet.
Casey County Clerk Casey Davis and Whitley County Clerk Kay Schwartz also object to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples; like Kim Davis, they say that doing so would violate their Christian beliefs.
In an interview this week with a West Virginia radio host, Casey Davis said he’s showing love to LGBT people by telling them they’ll go to hell if they don’t repent of their “lifestyle of sin.”
“When you stand for what’s right and when you tell someone of the danger that they are in, and I think that when a person lives a lifestyle of sin, whether it is homosexuality or drunkenness or drug addiction or adultery or thievery or any kind of sin that you continue in or live in, you are endangering yourself of spending eternity in hell,” Davis told Tom Roten. “So in my view of what the Bible says, when you’re truly loving someone, you stand and you lovingly tell them, ‘This is not the way to heaven, this is not the way of right.’” Davis also said he’s willing to die over the issue. Listen to clips below, courtesy of Right Wing Watch.
Meanwhile, the Kentucky County Clerks Association is drafting a bill that its members hope would end the impasse by changing the marriage license form so clerks wouldn’t have to sign it, Louisville TV station WDRB reports. Leslie County Clerk James Lewis, a member of the committee that drafted the proposal, said it’s a better option than issuing licenses online, which Casey Davis and some others have proposed, as it will allow clerks to obtain proof of age, parental consent (necessary for some couples), and other data they couldn’t get reliably online.
State Rep. Darryl Owens of Louisville, a Democrat, said the matter is not worth spending time and resources on, as so few clerks have objected to issuing licenses. “I don’t see a problem,” he told the station. “I don’t know what solution you’re trying to find. Are you trying to solve a problem for these two or three? It would be a problem if we had 117. I don’t see it as a problem.”
Meanwhile, the 10 lawyers who sued to bring down Kentucky’s marriage ban are seeking $2 million in fee reimbursements from the state, “under a federal law that requires defendants — in this case, the state — to pay the prevailing parties’ legal fees in civil rights litigation,” The Courier-Journal of Louisville reports. The law entitles them to a “reasonable” fee, but Gov. Steve Beshear said he didn’t find that amount reasonable, and the state will contest the request.