Thursday, September 03, 2015

Ky. clerk refusing to issue marriage licenses jailed; same-sex couple gets license Friday morning

UPDATED, Sept. 4: "James Yates and William Smith Jr. paid $35.50 and filled out some paperwork early Friday to become the first couple to get a marriage license in Rowan County since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage June 26, prompting a license ban by County Clerk Kim Davis," John Cheves reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. (Herald-Leader photo by Pablo Alcala: Rowan County deputy clerk Brian Mason shook hands with William Smith Jr., center, and James Yates on Friday morning after granting them a marriage license)

A federal judge today ordered an elected Kentucky county clerk jailed for contempt of court after she refused on religious grounds to obey his order to resume issuing marriage licenses. U.S. District Judge David Bunning said he chose not to fine Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis because her supporters were planning to raise money to pay the fine. "Plaintiffs in the case had asked Bunning to fine Davis, but they specifically requested that he not jail her," notes John Cheves of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
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Bunning ordered Davis's six deputies to issue licenses, and five of them said they would comply. "The one holdout was Ms. Davis’s son, Nathan," Alan Blinder reports for The New York Times. "Another hearing was scheduled for later Thursday, and Judge Bunning was expected to consider a request that Ms. Davis be released if she agreed to not interfere with marriage licenses for same-sex couples."

Bunning gave Davis "the chance to stay out of jail if she 'purged her contempt' by allowing one of her deputies to sign marriage licenses in her place," James Higdon and Sandhya Somashekhar report for The Washington Post. "But through an attorney, Davis told the judge that 'She does not grant her authority nor would allow any employee to issue those licenses.' Davis’s decision means the 49-year-old elected public servant will be kept in custody indefinitely as the legal wrangling over her case continues. It also suggests she is willing to martyr herself for her cause, which is the right of public officials to be guided by their personal religious beliefs."

Two other Kentucky clerks, in Casey and Whitley counties, have refused to issue marriage licenses because of their objections to same-sex marriage, but they have not been sued. Neither have any of those in Alabama taking the same stand. The group Freedom to Marry says its surveys of clerks have found 13 in Alabama refusing to issue licenses, Greg Sargent reports for the Post.

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