The third time was not the charm for Kentucky couple James Yates and William Smith Jr. They tried to apply for a marriage license Thursday morning, and for the third time Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis's office refused to issue it, according to Louisville paper The Courier Journal.
Video on the newspaper's website shows Davis herself was not at the desk when the couple arrived, cell phones recording and an entourage of local reporters in tow. A deputy clerk was the one who refused to issue the license.
As The Advocate reported Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejected Davis’s request for a stay of the federal district judge’s ruling that ordered her to issue licenses to all eligible couples. That means she and her staff, who have been turning away both same-sex and opposite-sex couples, must begin providing licenses Monday.
Despite the order indicating Monday as the date licenses must be issued, Yates and Smith decided they would try to get one Thursday as a matter of principle.
Davis had been sued by four couples, two same-sex and two opposite-sex, over her refusal to provide marriage licenses, and U.S. District Judge David Bunning ruled earlier this month 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.
Davis had sought to stay Bunning’s order pending appeal, but a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit on Wednesday 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 read in part.
Davis’s attorney, Mat Staver of the far-right religious advocacy law firm Liberty Counsel, said she will appeal her case to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. Kagan is assigned to consider cases and requests for appeal originating in the federal Sixth Circuit, which includes Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.
Watch the latest attempt by Yates and Smith to get a marriage license in Rowan County, below.