UPDATE: Rowan County Clerk Sues Governor Over Same-Sex Marriages Lawsuits

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UPDATE 8/5/15 @ 12 p.m.
ROWAN COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The Rowan County, Ky. Clerk, charged in a federal lawsuit over refusing to issue same-sex marriages, has now filed a lawsuit of her own, against Governor Steve Beshear.

Kim Davis was sued last month by the ACLU for her decision to not issue the marriage licenses. After the decision by the US Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage, Davis stopped issuing marriages to any couple, straight or gay.

She says the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives her the right to not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because it violates her religious beliefs.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday,, Davis claims Gov. Beshear is infringing on her religious beliefs. She blamed him for instructing all of the state's county clerks to comply with the US Supreme Court's decision to legalize same-sex marriage.

Davis asks the court for protection under the state's religious freedom law, which passed in 2013. According to the law, it protects "sincerely held religious beliefs" from infringement unless there is "a compelling governmental interest."

She also asks for the governor to be forced to pay damages she faces from the suits filed against her.

Also named in the suit is Wayne Onkst, the state's librarian and commission for the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. His agency is responsible for updating the state's marriage license forms and making them gender neutral.

Also on Tuesday, Davis filed a motion for the suits against her to be dismissed. US District Judge David Bunning is expected to rule on her case in the next few days.

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UPDATE 7/20/15 @ 2:15 p.m.
COVINGTON, Ky. (AP) – Rowan County Clerk, Kim Davis says she prayed and fasted for months before deciding to stop issuing marriage licenses once the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

Davis testified Monday in a federal hearing stemming from a lawsuit brought against her by two gay couples and two straight couples.

She says the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives her the right to not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because it violates her religious beliefs.

Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union say Davis' rationale would mean local officials could also deny marriage licenses to people who have been divorced or committed other actions that some consider sinful.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning says he will decide the case by the middle of August.



UPDATE 7/20/15 @ 8 a.m.
COVINGTON, Ky. (AP) – Rowan County Clerk, Kim Davis who has stopped issuing marriage licenses after the legalization of same-sex marriage could testify during a federal court hearing Monday morning.

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued Davis on the behalf of two gay couples and two straight couples.

Attorneys tried to have Davis testify last week during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Ashland, but a judge delayed her testimony because she had not been properly notified of the lawsuit against her.

The hearing is now scheduled to reconvene Monday in U.S. District Court in Covington.

Davis has said she cannot issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because it would violate her religious beliefs.

Some clerks have asked Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear to call a special session of the state legislature to address the issue. Beshear has declined, citing the cost to taxpayers.



UPDATE 7/13/15 @ 5:44 p.m.
ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was not in federal court Monday, as a judge heard evidence in a case filed against her.

Her attorneys said she hadn't been served.

The judge didn't make a decision in the case, instead continuing the hearing.

Still, there were protesters on both sides of the debate surrounding Davis' refusal to issue any marriage licenses.

Davis said her Christian beliefs keep her from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, therefore she's not issuing licenses to any.

Protesters stood their ground outside federal court in Ashland Monday.

They were all there as a judge heard the case against Kim Davis, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky.

Some of Davis' supporters made signs, while others prayed outside the courthouse or sang songs.

Protestors against Davis' stance held their own signs and messages high.

They were all in Ashland, as the federal judge took a hard look at the case.

The ACLU of Kentucky filed the lawsuit against Davis earlier this month, asking for a preliminary injunction against her.

This comes as she is one of several Kentucky county clerks refusing to issue marriage licenses citing religious beliefs.

The ACLU wants the injunction in place to, at least temporarily, get the marriage license process moving again.

"We need people that are in position, that will take a stand for religious freedom," said Randy Smith, who supports Davis.

"When people's rights and liberties are lost, that's when we need to take action and that's what's happening in Morehead and other counties," said Daniel Edie.

Edie wants Davis to issue the licenses.

In court, Davis' attorneys said she hadn't been served, and she wasn't there.

Her attorneys said she was in Boyd County, but was unavailable to testify.

The judge still wanted to hear evidence in the case, including testimony from April Miller and her partner Karen Roberts, who said they were one of several couples refused a license.

On the stand, Miller told the court she felt "furious" and it was "degrading" she'd have to go to another county for a marriage license.

"We do all of our business in Rowan County, and that's where we're getting married, in Rowan County," said Karen Roberts, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

The judge grilled attorneys on both sides, even telling Davis' attorneys, he couldn't profess religion from his bench, because "that would be inappropriate".

But Davis' attorneys said they believed she's protected by the law and Kentucky's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

They said there are several spots on the marriage license documents where Davis would be required to sign her name, against her beliefs.

"These plaintiffs do not have the right to force her to do that, whatever rights they have to same-sex marriage, as announced by the United States Supreme Court, does not overrule the First Amendment," said Roger Gannam, Davis' attorney.

Now, both sides said the case is far from over, and the couples involved said they aren't getting married anywhere else.

The judge ordered the case to resume, with Kim Davis there, no earlier than next Monday in Covington, Kentucky.

He also said after Davis is served, he also wants a written response about the preliminary injunction from the county or Davis by July 30.

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UPDATE 7/13/15
ASHLAND, Ky. (AP) -- No decision Monday in a federal lawsuit brought by the ACLU against the Rowan County Clerk over her refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

Kim Davis is one of a handful of local officials across Kentucky and the country who has refused to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s order because she says it violates her religious beliefs.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued Davis on behalf of two gay couples and two straight couples who were denied marriage licenses.

Other clerks have rallied behind Davis, demanding the government protect Christians from having to issue gay marriage licenses.

During Monday’s hearing in U.S. District Court in Ashland, the ACLU was asking for a preliminary injunction to force Davis to issue the licenses.

Davis was not present for the hearing. Her attorney told the court that she had not been served to appear at the hearing.

Judge David L. Bunning continued the hearing to a later date. He also moved the hearing from federal court in Ashland to Covington, Ky.

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UPDATE 7/13/15 @ 8:25 a.m.
ASHLAND, Ky. (AP) - The first test of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling legalizing gay marriage begins Monday in an Ashland, Ky. courtroom, where the Rowan County Clerk plans to argue that her Christian faith prevents her from issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

Kim Davis is one of a handful of local officials across the country who has refused to comply with the court's order because she says it violates her religious beliefs.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued Davis on behalf of two gay couples and two straight couples who were denied marriage licenses.

Other clerks have rallied behind Davis, demanding the government protect Christians from having to issue gay marriage licenses.

The hearing is scheduled for noon in U.S. District Court in Ashland before Judge David L. Bunning .

The case is reviving memories of the Supreme Court's 1967 ruling in Loving vs. Virginia striking down laws across the country forbidding interracial marriage. Waves of resistance that rippled across the South then took years to dissipate.

Legal experts suggest history might hint at how the coming months will unfold, as some defiant clerks refuse to abide by the gay marriage ruling.

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UPDATE 7/1/15 @ 6:05 p.m.
ROWAN COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Kim Davis, the Rowan County Clerk, did not want to go on camera, but spoke to WSAZ's Kaitlynn LeBeau on the phone Wednesday.

Davis is at the center of controversy in eastern Kentucky, refusing to issue marriage licenses to anyone because same-sex marriage is against her religious beliefs.

"I'm standing my ground and I'm staying my course," Davis said.

Davis says she is against the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last week that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. She says she will not back down in her decision to defy that ruling by refusing licenses to all couples, gay or straight.

"It's easy to say you're something at face value," Davis said. "But when the rubber meets the road and the going gets tough, you know, do you take a stand? Or do you turn and walk away? Sometimes the fight is not worth fighting for. Sometimes the battle, you know, is just not worth the effort you have to put into it. But this is a battle nationwide that I think is vital to every person that holds near and dear and to their heart the word of God."

Davis says she wants people to know that her decision is not out of hate. She says she turned away a lesbian couple Tuesday -- two people she has been friends with for years.

"I said, 'You know, I love you guys, but I can't be a party to that,'" Davis tells WSAZ. "I said, 'If your goal and what you want to accomplish is to get a marriage license, then you can go to Carter County, Morgan County, you can go to your home county.' "

Crowds protested Tuesday outside Davis' office in Morehead, Kentucky -- many, calling for the clerk to resign.

"That's their right to assemble peacefully and to, you know, voice their opinion just as it's my right to voice my opinion," Davis said.

Legal experts say the clerks could face jail time for refusing to perform a duty imposed on them by law. Davis, however, says she has no plans to resign.

"I don't really think it's an option for me because if I resign, I don't have any opportunities to really make an impact," Davis said.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear issued this statement Monday:

“Our county clerks took an oath, as elected officials, to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Kentucky and to provide important duties in their communities. This oath does not dictate what our clerks must believe, but it certainly prescribes how they must act in carrying out their duties as elected officials. Same-sex couples in Kentucky are now entitled to the issuance of a marriage license by every county clerk, based on Friday’s ruling by the United States Supreme Court. While there are certainly strongly held views on both sides of this issue, the fact remains that each clerk vowed to uphold the law regardless of his or her personal beliefs. I appreciate the clerks who are fulfilling their duties, issuing licenses to all couples, and I would expect others to execute the duties of their offices as prescribed by law and to issue marriage licenses to all Kentuckians.”

Davis says she is receiving everything from "Thank Yous" to death threats.

"I have received positive responses nationwide," Davis said. "I mean, this goes so much deeper than just here in Kentucky and this little county of Rowan County."

Casey Davis, the clerk in Casey County, Kentucky, is also not issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

The clerks in Montgomery and Lawrence counties stopped issuing licenses Monday, but brought them back Tuesday. They, too, took a stand for their religious beliefs.

"There's other clerks that feel the same way I do," Lawrence County Clerk and President of the Kentucky County Clerk's Association Chris Jobe said. "It's very disturbing. We were hoping the state would stand with us. It's like we had no choice in this decision. It's very troubling."

Kim Davis says Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway should support the clerks as they challenge the Supreme Court's ruling.

"To in good conscience not represent the state in a battle in front of the Supreme Court as he is elected to do, and he gets away scot-free?" Davis said. "He got exempted from that because of his conscience. We county clerks deserve that very same exemption.

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UPDATE 7/1/15 @ 1:05 p.m.
ROWAN COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Kim Davis, the Rowan County Clerk, did not want to go on camera, but spoke to WSAZ's Kaitlynn LeBeau on the phone Wednesday.

Davis is at the center of controversy in Eastern Kentucky, refusing to issue marriage licenses to anyone because same-sex marriage is against her religious beliefs.

"I'm standing my ground and I'm staying my course," Davis said.

Davis says she is against the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last week that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. She says she is standing her ground in her decision to defy that ruling by refusing licenses to all couples, gay or straight.

"It's easy to say you're something at face value," Davis said. "But when the rubber meets the road and the going gets tough, you know, do you take a stand? Or do you turn and walk away? Sometimes the fight is not worth fighting for. Sometimes the battle, you know, is just not worth the effort you have to put into it. But this is a battle nationwide that I think is vital to every person that holds near and dear and to their heart the word of God."

Davis says she wants people to know that her decision is not out of hate. She says she turned away a lesbian couple she is friends with on Tuesday.

"I said, 'You know, I love you guys, but I can't be a party to that,'" Davis tells WSAZ. "I said, 'If your goal and what you want to accomplish is to get a marriage license, then you can go to Carter County, Morgan County, you can go to your home county.'"

Crowds protested outside Davis' office in Morehead, Kentucky Tuesday. Many, calling for the clerk to resign.

"That's their right to assemble peacefully and to, you know, voice their opinion just as it's my right to voice my opinion," Davis said.

Davis says she has no plans to resign, even with the possibility of facing criminal misconduct charges and jail time for not carrying out her duties.

Davis says she is receiving everything from "Thank You's" to death threats.

"I have received positive responses nationwide," Davis said. "I mean, this goes so much deeper than just here in Kentucky and this little county of Rowan County."

The Casey County, Ky. Clerk is also not issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

Keep clicking on WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 6/30/15 @ 6 p.m.
LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Lawrence and Montgomery counties in Kentucky are now issuing marriage licenses again.

The clerks in Casey and Rowan counties, though, say they are standing their ground.

The four county clerks stopped issuing marriage licenses Monday.

This comes after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Friday that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

The four clerks say they oppose same-sex marriage because of their religious beliefs. To avoid discriminating against same-sex couples, the clerks stopped issuing the licenses to everyone.

But Tuesday, Lawrence County Clerk and President of the Kentucky County Clerk's Association Chris Jobe said marriage licenses are back in his county. However, he's not happy about it.

"There's other clerks that feel the same way I do," Jobe said. "It's very disturbing. We were hoping the state would stand with us. It's like we had no choice in this decision. It's very troubling."

Jobe and Montgomery County Clerk Chris Cockrell have decided to comply with the federal law.

"Unfortunately, we still believe the way we do. You know, what's right," Jobe said. "But at this time, as a duty of county clerk we have to issue marriage licenses."

Kim Davis, the county clerk for Rowan County, told WSAZ she cannot "in good conscience" issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple. She says she will continue to suspend all marriage licenses.

Casey County Clerk Casey Davis is also going to continue to refuse couples marriage licenses because of his religious beliefs.

WSAZ reached out to Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear's office for comment on Tuesday. We were told his office has no update.

Here is the statement Beshear issued Monday:

“Our county clerks took an oath, as elected officials, to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Kentucky and to provide important duties in their communities. This oath does not dictate what our clerks must believe, but it certainly prescribes how they must act in carrying out their duties as elected officials. Same-sex couples in Kentucky are now entitled to the issuance of a marriage license by every county clerk, based on Friday’s ruling by the United States Supreme Court. While there are certainly strongly held views on both sides of this issue, the fact remains that each clerk vowed to uphold the law regardless of his or her personal beliefs. I appreciate the clerks who are fulfilling their duties, issuing licenses to all couples, and I would expect others to execute the duties of their offices as prescribed by law and to issue marriage licenses to all Kentuckians.”

Keep clicking on WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



ORIGINAL STORY 6/29/15 @ 11:30 p.m.
LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide. But there are still some county clerks in Kentucky refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In fact, they're not issuing marriage licenses to anyone, indefinitely.

Lawrence, Montgomery, Casey and Rowan counties are not issuing marriage licenses, according to Chris Jobe, Lawrence County Clerk and President of the Kentucky County Clerk's Association.

Jobe says for religious reasons, he's against same-sex marriage. To avoid what is now legal discrimination following last week's Supreme Court ruling, Jobe is opting to not give the licenses out at all.

He says he's working with the county attorney and the clerks from other counties to address their concerns.

"I want to do what's right," Jobe said. When asked what the right thing is, Jobe said, "I'm not sure sure yet. Until we get further guidance from the state and things of that nature."

Jobe says he hopes to have a meeting with all of the clerks this week. He says in addition to the four counties that have already stopped issuing the licenses, he has received phone calls from at least 10 other county clerks.

"There is several of us that do have religious concerns," Jobe said.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear issued this statement to WSAZ in response to the clerks' actions:

“Our county clerks took an oath, as elected officials, to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Kentucky and to provide important duties in their communities. This oath does not dictate what our clerks must believe, but it certainly prescribes how they must act in carrying out their duties as elected officials. Same-sex couples in Kentucky are now entitled to the issuance of a marriage license by every county clerk, based on Friday’s ruling by the United States Supreme Court. While there are certainly strongly held views on both sides of this issue, the fact remains that each clerk vowed to uphold the law regardless of his or her personal beliefs. I appreciate the clerks who are fulfilling their duties, issuing licenses to all couples, and I would expect others to execute the duties of their offices as prescribed by law and to issue marriage licenses to all Kentuckians.”

Keep clicking on WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



 
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