Kim Davis, a former Kentucky clerk, violated the rights of same-sex couple. Judge rules

A federal judge ruled that a Kentucky clerk had violated the constitutional rights to two same-sex married couples.

Kim Davis, a former Kentucky clerk, violated the rights of same-sex couple. Judge rules

She refused to issue marriage licenses to them, a decision that caused international attention and sent her to jail for a brief time in 2015.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning of Ashland made Friday's ruling in two longstanding lawsuits. They involved Kim Davis, the ex-clerk of Rowan County and two identical-sex couples who sued. To determine any damages that the couples may be owed, a jury trial must still take place.

Bunning argued that Davis could not use her constitutional rights to violate the rights of others, while she was performing her duties as an elected representative.

"It is obvious that Obergefell recognizes Plaintiffs’ Fourteenth Amendment rights to marry," wrote the judge, referring to the landmark Obergefell decision on same-sex marriage. It is also obvious that Davis made a conscious choice to violate Plaintiffs' rights.


 

After the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that allowed same-sex couples to marry across the country, Davis, a Christian who had a religious objection, stopped issuing marriage licenses.

Davis was ordered to issue licenses by a judge after Davis was sued. Gay and straight couples sued her and she was sentenced to five days in prison for refusing to issue licenses.

Her staff issued her licenses and removed her name from them. She was only released after she was released. Later, the state legislature passed a law that removed all names from state marriage licenses.

Davis, a Republican lost her bid to be reelected in 2018. Elwood Caudill Jr., a Democrat, is the current county clerk.

Davis had claimed that qualified immunity, a legal doctrine, protected her from being sued for damages in a lawsuit by David Ermold and David Moore, as well as James Yates (and Will Smith). In October 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court made a decision that allowed the case to proceed and declined to hear it.

Liberty Counsel, Davis' law firm, suggested that the case could be remanded to the Supreme Court.

The group pointed out comments made by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on the 2020 ruling, which he wrote for Justice Samuel Alito.

Thomas stated that he was in agreement with the Davis case not being heard in 2020. However, it was a stark reminder of the 2015 court decision in the same-sex marital case.

He wrote that because of that case, "those who sincerely believe in marriage will find it more difficult to participate and not be afoul of this case and its effect on anti-discrimination laws."

Mat Staver (liberty counsel founder and chairman) stated that Kim Davis is entitled protection for accommodation based upon her sincere religious belief. "This case raises serious First Amendment claims for free exercise of religion and has high potential to reach the Supreme Court."


 

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