US Judge Rules Against Christian Clerk Who Denied Gay Marriage Licenses

On March 18, a U.S. District Court ruled against a county clerk charged with violating the rights of same-sex couples. The ruling will pave the way for a jury trial against Kim Davis from Rowan, Kentucky.

David Bunning, U.S. district judge of the Eastern District of Kentucky, denied Davis' request for immunity. With her request for summary judgment declined, she is now set to go through a jury trial seeking damages against her.

"It is readily apparent that Obergefell recognizes Plaintiffs' Fourteenth Amendment right to marry," Bunning said in his ruling, referring to Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark Supreme Court decision which legalized same-sex marriages. "It is also readily apparent that Davis made a conscious decision to violate Plaintiffs' right," he added.

In 2015, Davis continued to deny same-sex couples with marriage licenses despite the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Rather than issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Davis announced that her office would no longer issue marriage licenses.

Davis made the announcement a day after the landmark Obergefell versus Hodges ruling.

Bunning, in 2015, issued a preliminary injunction ordering Davis and her office to resume issuing marriage licenses. Davis declined the following order and was sent to jail after Bunning held her in contempt of the court. She was released a couple of days later.

Davis argued that issuing marriage licenses to "such couples" is against her religious beliefs. She said "that she could not give them a marriage license under God's authority," NPR reported.

Couples Ermold and David Moore, James Yates, and Will Smith were all denied marriage licenses. A deputy clerk approved their license application while Davis was in prison for Bunning's contempt charges.

Ermold, expressing relief, tweeted that after "S-E-V-E-N years, Judge Bunning finally ruled that Kim Davis intentionally violated our constitutional rights." "Now, the question is will they hold her financially responsible for the insensitive and irrational legal mess that SHE created," he added.

Liberty Counsel, the Christian legal organization representing Davis, insisted that she is not liable for any damages. The group pointed out former Governor Matt Bevin's executive order that allowed county clerks not to "issue marriage licenses that conflict with their religious beliefs."

Mat Staver, founder, and chairman of Liberty Counsel said that Davis' case "raises serious First Amendment" concerns. Staver also insisted that "Davis is entitled to protection to an accommodation based on her sincere religious belief."

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