Clerk defies federal judge on gay marriage as news media pounces

A Kentucky clerk’s office wasted no time defying a federal judge who ordered her to start issuing marriage licenses late Wednesday. She turned away a gay couple seeking a marriage license Thursday morning.

And an Associated Press reporter was on the scene to spread the news within minutes.

The Rowan County clerk’s office opens at 8 a.m. In a story posted at 9:08 a.m., The AP reported:

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ office turned away David Moore and David Ermold just hours after a U.S. district judge ordered her to do the opposite.

Deputy clerk Nathan Davis says the office was advised by its attorneys with the Christian law firm Liberty Counsel to continue refusing same-sex couples as it appeals the ruling to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.


In response to the Supreme Court ruling against bans on same-sex marriage, Davis had quit issuing marriage licenses altogether — gay or straight. She argued that issuing licenses to gay couples was a violation of her Christian beliefs.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning dismissed Davis’ argument involving religious freedom and ordered her to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling, according to The AP.

David Ermold, right, shows Rowan County clerks a copy of  court ruling instructing the county to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples  (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Bunning said that by “openly adopting a policy that promotes her own religious convictions at the expenses of others,” Davis may be in violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which prohibits government from favoring one religion over another.

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“Davis remains free to practice her Apostolic Christian beliefs. She may continue to attend church twice a week, participate in Bible Study and minister to female inmates at the Rowan County Jail,” he 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.”

David Moore and David Ermold were the first gay couple to be denied a license Thursday by Davis, The AP reported.

“If you want a statement from me, I will say that people are cruel, they are cruel,” Ermold said. “These people are cruel.”

Either way, the legal battle between religious freedom and same-sex marriage continues — with The AP eagerly awaiting the opportunity to report on the outcome.

Tom Tillison


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