Jailed clerk’s attorney says marriage licenses for gays are void

MOREHEAD, Ky. (AP) — A jailed Kentucky clerk asserted that marriage licenses issued without her authority Friday to gay couples in Rowan County are void and “not worth the paper they are written on” because she didn’t authorize them, her attorney said.

James Yates, right, hugs his partner William Smith Jr., after receiving their marriage license at the Rowan County Judicial Center. Deputy clerk Brian Mason issued the license, congratulating the couple and shaking their hands as he smiled, Morehead, Ky, Sept. 4, 2015 | AP Photo by Alton Strupp, The Courier-Journal, St. George News
James Yates, right, hugs his partner, William Smith Jr., after receiving their marriage license at the Rowan County Judicial Center. Deputy clerk Brian Mason issued the license, congratulating the couple and shaking their hands as he smiled, Morehead, Kentucky, Sept. 4, 2015 | AP Photo by Alton Strupp, The Courier-Journal, St. George News

Kim Davis now wears an orange jumpsuit and “has already been doing Bible studies with herself” in jail, her attorney Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel told reporters after meeting with her behind bars. He said Davis is in very good spirits and is prepared to stay as long as it takes to uphold her religious freedoms.

“She’s not going to resign, she’s not going to sacrifice her conscience, so she’s doing what Martin Luther King Jr. wrote about in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail, which is to pay the consequences for her decision,” Staver said.

Meanwhile, Staver said he’s preparing to appeal U.S. District Judge David Bunning’s contempt finding as one of several legal challenges on her behalf.

At least three gay couples received marriage licenses Friday from one of Davis’ deputies, embracing and celebrating after repeatedly being turned away before Davis was jailed on Thursday.

In this photo, Rowan County, Ky., clerk Kim Davis is escorted from the Carl Perkins Federal Courthouse. District Judge David Bunning said he had no choice but to jail Davis for contempt after she insisted that her "conscience will not allow" her to follow federal court rulings on gay marriage, Ashland, Ky., Sept. 3, 2015 | AP Photo by  Jonathan Palmer, The Courier-Journal, St. George News
In this photo, Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis is escorted from the Carl Perkins Federal Courthouse. District Judge David Bunning said he had no choice but to jail Davis for contempt after she insisted that her “conscience will not allow” her to follow federal court rulings on gay marriage, Ashland, Kentucky, Sept. 3, 2015 | AP Photo by Jonathan Palmer, The Courier-Journal, St. George News

Marriage licenses in Kentucky usually have the elected clerk’s signature on them; those handed out Friday lacked any signature. The Rowan County attorney and lawyers for the gay couples said they are legal and valid nevertheless. When the judge was asked if the licenses will be considered valid without Davis’ authorization, he said it was up to the gay couples to take that chance.

William Smith Jr. and James Yates, a couple for nearly a decade, were the first through the door. Deputy clerk Brian Mason congratulated the couple, shook their hands and accepted their fee of $35.50. Yates then rushed across the courthouse steps to hug his mom.

“Civil rights are civil rights and they are not subject to belief,” said Yates, who had been denied a license five times previously.

A crowd of supporters cheered and a street preacher rained down words of condemnation as they left. Yates and Smith said they are trying to choose between two wedding dates and plan a small ceremony.

Kim Davis had refused to issue any marriage licenses rather than comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June legalizing gay marriage nationwide. After ordering her to jail, the judge told her six deputy clerks that they too faced potential fines or jail time if they similarly refuse. All but one — the clerk’s son, Nathan Davis — agreed to end her church-state standoff.

A second couple, Timothy and Michael Long, got their license later Friday, enduring a taunt of “More sodomites getting married?” from a man inside the office. The Longs did not respond, and a worker told the man to leave.

Michael Long, left, and Timothy Long kiss outside the Rowan County Judicial Center, raising their fist clinched high in to the air after being the second couple to receive a marriage license. Gay couples walked out of the Kentucky courthouse with marriage licenses Friday, a day after the county's defiant clerk, Kim Davis, was taken to jail for refusing to license same-sex marriages, citing "God's authority," Morehead, Ky, Sept. 4, 2015 | AP Photo by Alton Strupp, The Courier-Journal, St. George News
Michael Long, left, and Timothy Long kiss outside the Rowan County Judicial Center, raising their fists clinched high in the air after being the second couple to receive a marriage license. Gay couples walked out of the Kentucky courthouse with marriage licenses Friday, a day after the county’s defiant clerk, Kim Davis, was taken to jail for refusing to license same-sex marriages, citing “God’s authority,” Morehead, Kentucky, Sept. 4, 2015 | AP Photo by Alton Strupp, The Courier-Journal, St. George News

A third couple, April Miller and Karen Roberts, got their license around midday.

“Now we can breathe. I’m still ecstatic and happy. I just can’t wait to get married now,” Roberts said.

The judge offered to release Davis if she promises not to interfere with her employees issuing the licenses, but she refused.

Davis’ husband, Joe Davis, also came to the courthouse Friday, holding a sign saying “Welcome to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

He said his wife was in good spirits after her first night in jail. Asked if she would resign, he said, “Oh, God no. She’s not going to resign at all. It’s a matter of telling Bunning he ain’t the boss.”

Davis’ son, who said he supports his mother, was warned by the judge Thursday not to interfere with his fellow employees. The judge said he did not want “any shenanigans,” such as closing the office for computer upgrades as they did briefly last week.

“That would show a level of disrespect for the court’s order,” Bunning said. “I’m hoping that cooler heads will prevail.”

This photo made available by the Carter County Detention Center shows Kim Davis. The Rowan County, Ky. clerk went to jail Thursday for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, but five of her deputies agreed to comply with the law, ending a two-month standoff, Aug. 3, 2015 | AP Photo courtesy of Carter County Detention Center, St. George News
This photo, made available by the Carter County Detention Center, shows Kim Davis. The Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk went to jail Thursday for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, but five of her deputies agreed to comply with the law, ending a two-month standoff, Aug. 3, 2015 | AP Photo courtesy of Carter County Detention Center, St. George News

The judge indicated Kim Davis would remain in jail at least a week, saying he would revisit his decision after the deputy clerks have had time to comply with his order.

Staver called on the judge as well as Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear to make “reasonable accommodations” so that Davis can keep her job without violating her beliefs as an Apostolic Christian. He suggested that with an executive order, he could change all the forms in Kentucky so that none require a clerk’s signature or say that they’ve been issued under a clerk’s authority.

Kentucky lawmakers won’t meet until January, unless the governor calls a costly special session, and when they do, they say they will have many changes to make to adapt the state’s civil code to the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Story by Adam Beam, Associated Press. AP writer Claire Galofaro in Louisville, Kentucky, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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28 Comments

  • An actual Independent September 4, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    “To uphold her religious freedom”? What a load of bull. She has the right to disagree with the law. She has the right to resign her position if she cannot reconcile her beliefs with performing her duties. She does not have the right, as a public official, to deny others their rights under the law. She’s where she belongs.

    • Chris September 5, 2015 at 12:02 am

      Absolutely correct. If her religious beliefs forbid mixing of the races (as many Christian sects, including Mormons, did into the 1970’s), would her attorneys be arguing that she could legally deny marriage licenses to mixed race couples?

  • 42214 September 4, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    If you can’t uphold your oath of office for issues of concsience, find another job. Conscientious objectors were made medics and other non-combat positions in prior military conflicts but still served their country. She was rightfully jailed for contempt of a lawful court
    order. Since she is elected, she should be impeached for neglect of duty and removed from office according to law. You can point out all kinds of similar political cases where laws are not enforced like immigration and sanctuary cities. You can’t use one wrong to justify another. This is as simple a straight forward legal case as you can find. Disobey a court order, pay the consequences. Whether it’s abortion, gay marriage, or whatever else you are against, you can’t use something that is legal as grounds to neglect your duty. Only unlawful orders can be used for that purpose.

  • Billy Madison September 4, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    A hey hot stuff, whatcha doing Saturday night? Wanna hit St. George Fest? I just got my allowance and we could eat a Navajo Taco and watch the bands.

    • Real Life September 4, 2015 at 10:29 pm

      Or Billy, you and “dexter” could head on over to Kentucky, and tie the not.

  • AnnieMated September 4, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    If Mr. Staver is going to compare his client to Martin Luther King, Mr. Staver needs to read Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech before he does. To quote the late Rev. Dr. himself

    ” I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

    I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”

    and ;

    ” In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s Capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

    This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

    As most of you can clearly see, Dr. King fought for EQUALITY for EVERYONE!

    Now I’m all for her beliefs, she can stand in front of that county clerks and yell horrible things at people she disagrees with until she’s blue in the face for all I care but she does not have the right to force anyone else to conform to her way of thinking simply because she disagrees with who they want to spend their life with. Do I think she deserves jail? No, but I do think she needs to be fired for refusing to do the job she was hired to do.

  • munchie September 4, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    She is a public employee, there to do her job as it is outlined in her job description, not to deny others their legal, civil rights. If she cannot fulfill her duties, she should resign. If she refuses to resign, she can just stay in jail. I can’t stand it when people use God as a reason for their prejudice

  • Dexter September 4, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    Yeah she is exactly where she belongs. her stupid religious beliefs are not the law of the land.

  • Cuberantcamper September 5, 2015 at 5:15 am

    Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. The religious element believes they have the right to impose their values on everyone. Religious beliefs are not grounded by reality and should not be above the laws of the land. Amen.

  • Dexter September 5, 2015 at 5:27 am

    Ha ha I told you I could make the village idiot leave a comment..

  • Brian September 5, 2015 at 5:31 am

    Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. Religious beliefs are not based on reality and should not used as the law of the land.

  • BIG GUY September 5, 2015 at 5:47 am

    I agree, we are a nation of laws and she belongs in jail until she is impeached, as should any public official who refuses to obey the law. But what about Eric Holder in 2011 who, contrary to his oath as Attorney General, refused to defend Bill Clinton’s Defense of Marriage Act passed with a large bi-partisan majority? (Obama and Hilary still publically opposed gay marriage at that time.) Or Gavin Newsom who as mayor of San Francisco issued marriage licenses in defiance of state law? Oh, that’s right, they were supporting a liberal cause and that’s different.

    • An actual Independent September 5, 2015 at 7:05 am

      Those guys were wrong as well, though they erred on the side of allowing personal freedom the law did not allow for, whereas this lady is choosing to personally deny others their legal rights. In this particular instance, we have an assumed Conservative choosing, illegally and ironically, to exert MORE government control over individual rights. And yes, there’s a lot of hypocrisy on both ends of the spectrum.
      Why does every conversation have to turn into another “they did it too” Liberal vs Conservative thing? Can’t we talk about the actual facts and debate these things on their own individual merits?

      • BIG GUY September 5, 2015 at 9:10 am

        ACTUAL, conservatives are not proposing to “exert more control over individual rights.” Instead, they argue for maintaining traditional marriage as practiced for centuries in most of the world. Same sex marriage advocates sought additional government control over marriage by using government to force an expanded definition. What you call a “legal right” only came to the surface in the last 10-15 years.
        .
        Any liberal supporting same sex marriage must also by your logic support polygamy and polyandry between consenting adults age 18 and over. I challenge any who do not to explain why this “legal right” should be denied. (I personally oppose plural marriage.)

    • Mike September 5, 2015 at 7:51 am

      Those you cite were defying laws that were unconstitutional. Not “liberal,” unconstitutional.

      • BIG GUY September 5, 2015 at 8:50 am

        MIKE, laws are presumed constitutional and therefore enforceable until declared otherwise by the courts. DOMA was fully constitutional at the time and embraced by President Obama whose views were still “evolving” (his word). Laws are laws and the executive branch of government is sworn to uphold them, not to alter them as they see fit. To think otherwise is to invite dictatorship.

        • Chris September 5, 2015 at 7:56 pm

          Selective enforcement of the law by the executive branch is nothing new. It dates back as far as Washington himself.

      • makkie September 5, 2015 at 10:12 am

        You ever notice liberals are 100% in support of laws that serve their political agenda,but turn a blind eye to those that do not serve their agenda,like our immigration laws ?
        Hypocrisy at its best.
        Lets crucify the kentucky clerk but let all the illegals go and lets ignore billarys email debacle as well.

        • debbie September 5, 2015 at 3:00 pm

          yeah i was seeing this yesterday during an argument with someone about this.. when you slice the law down the middle both have rights.. the gay has their civil right and the christian clerk has hers. no matter what anyone say’s or does.. this was a tie.. and the gov’t just sided with whomever they wanted at the time. it has been interesting to watch.. our forefathers noted that laws were not to be judged on opinion but on whether they followed the intent of the forefathers christian intentions.. they actually notes no opinions of the courts.. why then do judges say, “it is the opinion of this court?” sad really.. most everything our courts have done in the last 40 years, are illegal.. a bad lawyer could argue it. Reagon had a legal dispensation done on it.. as he wondered what did we do when faced with this very same issue where both sides are right? and its so funny watching everyone argue it like their side is so right..lol in reality its a tie. ( was just agreeing with you that liberals just go with whatever feels good.. makes them look good and so heroic to the public usually.. i got some great liberal friends but in the most part, i just see pppl who really need recognition.. fighting republicans
          http://apps.americanbar.org/publiced/constitutionday/OriginalIntent.pdf

          • An actual Independent September 5, 2015 at 4:58 pm

            It just infuriates me when people claim the founding fathers intended to create a Christian nation. They went out of their way to make sure that’s NOT what they did. Maybe it’s just because it’s been spouted over and over so it’s blindly accepted as truth (especially here in Southern Utah). A very quick internet search will turn up hundreds of quotes from Thomas Jefferson, pleading for laws based on reason and specifically opining that they should not be based on Christian or any other religious convictions.

          • Chris September 5, 2015 at 7:53 pm

            The link you included contradicts everything you just said, at least everything that was not indecipherable gibberish.

          • 42214 September 5, 2015 at 8:23 pm

            Not even close to a tie. Gay marriage is legal, period. Whether the court voted 9-0 or 5-4 it’s the law. The clerk can’t ignore her oath because she disagrees. What other cases in the last 40 years are illegal? Since the Supreme Court says what is legal and not, I’d love to hear you explain how the last 40 years of court rulings are illegal. Be a bad lawyer, let’s hear your argument. Start with Roe v Wade, Brown V Board of Education, Miranda v Arizona Garddiner v Tennessee

  • WhatTheHeck September 5, 2015 at 8:42 am

    A new class of extremism ; The religious supremacist.

  • Dexter September 5, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    She’s in jail and wedding licenses are being handed out. perfect ending.!

  • 42214 September 5, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    How did she get 4 guys to marry her?

  • Roy J September 5, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    Interesting. And here I thought that SCOTUS was clearly outside the bounds of its authority in Obergefell and should be sharply reined in. huh.

  • Dexter September 5, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    Her freedom is VOID.!!

  • Dexter September 7, 2015 at 2:49 am

    I just posted 2 more comments. gee I wonder what kind of hate me comment REAL LIFE is going to post. He doesn’t like me. Well boo hoo LOL.!

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