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Kentucky Clerk’s Office Issues Marriage License To Gay Couple, Ending Ban

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Kentucky Clerk’s Office Issues Marriage License To Gay Couple, Ending Ban


By Steve Bittenbender

MOREHEAD, Ky. (Reuters) — A county clerk’s office in rural Kentucky issued a marriage license to a gay couple on Friday morning after defying a federal judge’s orders for months.

While Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was jailed on Thursday for refusing to follow the orders of U.S. District Judge David Bunning, her deputies processed a license for James Yates and William Smith, who had previously been denied five times, after the clerk’s office doors opened on Friday.

The issuance of the license followed months of legal wrangling between Davis and the courts that drew global attention and protests from supporters and opponents of gay marriage.

Davis, who has become a darling of social conservatives, had refused to issue any marriage licenses under an office policy she created after the U.S. Supreme Court in June made gay marriage legal across the United States. She cited her beliefs as an Apostolic Christian that a marriage can only be between a man and a woman.

Yates and Smith, who held hands entering and exiting the building, paid $35.50 in cash for the license. Deputy clerk Brian Mason, who had a sign in the office reading “marriage license deputy,” shook their hands and congratulated them.

As Yates and Smith exited the building, supporters chanted “Love has won!” Yates said all he wanted to do was hug his parents.

“We were more optimistic today,” Yates said, when asked if the couple had been nervous about their sixth attempt to get a license. They now have 30 days to get married, and he said they had two dates picked out, depending on when guests can attend.

Off to the side, a Davis backer holding a bible preached against homosexuality.

It was the 100th marriage license issued by the clerk’s office this year and the first one since the Supreme Court ruling. Last year, the clerk’s office issued 214 marriage licenses.

Emotions have run high on all sides as Davis and an attorney for one of the four couples who sued the county clerk said they had received death threats. A Kentucky legal trade publication reported the judge had also received a death threat.

Outside the Morehead, Kentucky, courthouse where the clerk’s office is located, there were about 40 demonstrators, far fewer than the 200 or so who showed up on Thursday in Ashland, the site of the federal courthouse where Davis was found in contempt and jailed. Morehead is about 90 miles from the state capital of Frankfort.

Davis’ husband stood outside the courthouse on Friday morning, holding a sign that read, “Welcome to Sodom and Gomorrah.” He said his wife was in good spirits after her first night in jail at a county detention center, adding she had no plans to resign and was prepared to remain in jail for as long as she felt necessary.

“We don’t hate these people,” he told reporters. “That’s the furthest thing from our hearts. We don’t hate nobody. We just want to have the same rights that they have.”

Describing himself as an “old country hillbilly” with an 11th grade education, Davis said he knew more about the law than most because he worked in corrections. He said he disagreed with the Supreme Court’s June ruling.

On Thursday, Bunning ordered Davis jailed, saying he did not think a fine would be effective. He also got pledges from five of Davis’ six deputy clerks that they would issue licenses to anyone, including same-sex couples, in her absence. The judge told them they would be ordered to return to the U.S. District Court in Ashland, Kentucky, if they did not.

Some reluctantly agreed, saying they were balancing personal convictions and family responsibilities, and faith. The sixth deputy clerk, Davis’ son Nathan, would not agree to issue licenses, but he was not jailed.

Davis’ stance and whether she should be forced to issue marriage licenses has split Republican presidential candidates.

(Reporting by Steve Bittenbender in Kentucky; Writing by David Bailey and Ben Klayman; Editing by Ken Wills and Jeffrey Benkoe)

Photo: Demonstrators stand on the front steps of the federal building waving a rainbow flag in protest of Rowan County clerk Kim Davis’ arrival to attend a contempt of court hearing for her refusal to issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples at the United States District Court in Ashland, Kentucky, September 3, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Tilley



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  2. Daniel Max Ketter September 4, 2015

    Good news. My boy Lewis will finally be happy and married, and give me that son-in-law I’ve never had.

    1. charleo1 September 5, 2015

      Congratulations all around, Mr. Ketter!

      1. Daniel Max Ketter September 5, 2015

        Thank You! One of the biggest victories since woman’s suffrage and afro- america civil rights.

    2. Staci Kittern Disbrow September 5, 2015

      Yes congratulations Mr Ketter, you my man!

  3. charleo1 September 5, 2015

    Mr. Davis, the Plaintiff’s husband says he only seeks to ‘have’ “the same Rights as they have.” “They,” of course, meaning Gay couples now seeking to exercise their newly recognized Right to marriage. It’s a mysterious statement, we’ve heard before. This idea that Gay couples have suddenly been granted this new and special Right. Instead of having one of the Rights they have been entitled to all along, to finally be recognized. And yet, this is far too often the problem with today’s Conservative Right. While claiming no animosity, they have no particular problems in enforcing, and living in a multi tiered society of the favored, and the less than. As long of course, as, “they,” those like Mr. Davis, are guaranteed membership in the former privileged group, and not the latter.

  4. Polana September 5, 2015

    She deserved what she got and should stay in jail. As an official she took an oath to upheld the law of the land that applies to all people. If she can’t do that job, then she should resign and work in her full of bigoted people like her church. That’s idiotic and moronic and pure hate and ignorance. What if a waitress refuse to serve me a ham sandwich, because she is a Jew or Muslim based on her personal beliefs she will not order me my sandwich? Should I order lamb meat ?? It would be more to her/his liking? How about me and my right to eat what I want and pay for?? I don’t like lamb??( I am not a meat eater- just example). How their marriage affect her personal life?? She has been married 3 times and it’s Ok w/her God, then what God she talks to??
    People like her would crucify Jesus for being liberal and forgiving. Judge not, lest ye be judged. He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.

    Freedom is the distance between church and state.

    1. Wayne Thorson September 5, 2015

      Good words. I wished I had said them.

    2. Whatmeworry September 5, 2015

      Using your logic then Barak should be in jail for not enforcing and obeying out laws

      1. bobnstuff September 5, 2015

        The president is not disobeying any court orders. As President he has powers and duties given to him under Article II section 1 of constitution. Ms. Davis is protesting the totally legal actions of the SCOTUS by civil disobedience which is her right but there are consequences to her actions.

        1. Whatmeworry September 5, 2015

          I’m no moron bob, I know what i’m saying

          1. bobnstuff September 5, 2015

            If you are not a moron then you would understand that the President has some choice in how he enforces the law, just like every president before him. He has obeyed the orders of the SCOTUS unlike Ms. Davis. I don’t think a county clerk gets the same powers as the president.

          2. Whatmeworry September 5, 2015

            I’m not a moron, so thats why I dont understand you logic

          3. bobnstuff September 6, 2015

            No, I think you and everyone else has heard that the President is breaking the laws for so long you believe it even though the facts don’t line up’ Do you think he wouldn’t have been impeached had he really been breaking the law. After over 6 years the republicans still can’t make a case. Ms. Davis has pushed to be sent to jail, she wanted it. I figure she’s making a million a day sitting in that cell. Check the fund raising for her.

          4. Whatmeworry September 6, 2015

            You must not read any newspapers where you live

          5. bobnstuff September 6, 2015

            read three to five papers a day and also read a lot of history so I know about the power of the President. I also know that the misinformation that the right eats up is a mix of half truths and lies. Obama has been careful not to cross the line, he comes close at times but so have many presidents before him.

          6. Whatmeworry September 6, 2015

            sorry comik book and smut papers dont count. Try reading usa today, forbes, and the times and get back to me

          7. bobnstuff September 6, 2015

            I read the Time, The Washington Post, The Miami Herald plus the WSJ off and on. I also read two local Pittsburgh papers. Every paper has gone down hill. They get to much form the AP another agencies. The WSJ runs hot and cold, sometimes they are OK and sometimes I i the copy boys are running the place. I don’t trust any of them to be fair or unbiased. A good example is the Pittsburgh Trib, It is owned by the Mellon family to give a republican voice in western Pa. Don’t be bad mouthing comic though, my son writes comic books and there is where the world has really changed.

          8. dpaano March 18, 2016

            You may not be a moron, but you certainly don’t understand the truth when it’s right there in front of you.

      2. Daniel Max Ketter September 5, 2015

        My deary sweeet Linda Rae should be in jail for for falling off the ugly tree and hitting every branch on the way down.

      3. Whatmeworry September 5, 2015

        Using your logic then you can see i’m a moron who knows nutting

      4. Staci Kittern Disbrow September 5, 2015

        You a fool chump! Barack Obama should get another Nobel Peace Prize, and you should take the dunce cap and sit in the corner!

      5. Sand_Cat September 7, 2015

        You bet. Still not worrying about the absence of truth in your little posts, I see.

        1. Whatmeworry September 7, 2015

          7 years and you have yet to a newspaper

          1. Staci Kittern Disbrow November 15, 2015

            Daaaaaan Ketter!

          2. dpaano March 18, 2016

            What???? Your comment makes absolutely no sense!

      6. dpaano March 18, 2016

        And what laws are those that he’s not enforcing or obeying??? I’d be interested in knowing because I’m sure if he were doing this, our Judicial group would be on his back like flies on dead meat!! You are as brainwashed as most conservatives….probably been listening to too much FAUX News!

  5. Gladys Bonilla September 6, 2015

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  6. dpaano March 18, 2016

    It’s interesting that Davis’ husband says he wants to “have the same rights that they have,” but he and his wife are denying those “same rights” to same-sex couples. According to the Constitution, they have the same rights as everyone already…..it’s only a few of the evangelical Christians who don’t think they should have these rights! Religion should have NOTHING to do with your job, and when you take an oath to perform that job, you need to adhere to that oath. I don’t believe the oath had anything that says you can grant marriage licenses, EXCEPT for same-sex couples.


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