Federal judge orders Kentucky clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples
A federal judge in Kentucky ordered a county clerk on Wednesday to resume issuing marriage licenses despite her religious objections to same-sex marriage, a ruling that was quickly appealed.
U.S. District Judge David Bunning granted a preliminary injunction against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis that had been requested by eight people, including two same-sex couples, who sued Davis last month for violating their rights.
Bunning said Davis had to live up to her responsibilities as county clerk.
“Davis remains free to practice her Apostolic
Christian beliefs,” Bunning wrote in his decision. “She is even free to believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman, as many Americans do. However, her religious convictions cannot excuse her from performing the duties that she took an oath to perform as Rowan County Clerk.”
Davis stopped issuing all marriage licenses following the late June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that legalized gay marriage. She previously said her religious beliefs as an Apostolic Christian prevented her from issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.
Bunning’s injunction means Davis’ office will have to start processing marriage license applications again. Davis’ attorneys filed an appeal of Bunning’s ruling to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Asked if Davis would honor the judge’s decision, Roger Gannam, an attorney representing her, said: “At this point, it’s too early to say what our client will do.”
William Sharp, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs, said he planned to discuss the ruling with his clients and was not sure if they planned to seek marriage licenses.
“We think Judge Bunning’s ruling is sound on the volume of facts,” Sharp said.
Shortly after the Supreme Court ruling, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear issued an order to the state’s 120 county clerks to begin processing same-sex marriage licenses. A few decided to disregard it because of what they said was their Christian belief that marriage can be only between a man and a woman.
Watch a report on Bunning’s decision, as aired on WKYT-TV, below.