A former county clerk in Kentucky continues to be the target of litigation after she did not give a marriage license to two homosexual male couples and based the decision on her religious beliefs. Now a Kentucky federal judge has ruled that former county clerk Kim Davis violated the two gay couples’ constitutional rights when she repeatedly denied them marriage licenses in 2015, reports The Hill.
U.S. Judge David Bunning in the Eastern District of Kentucky found Davis guilty of violating the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs in the case, David Ermold and David Moore, and James Yates and Will Smith, according to court documents.
The matter is likely to go to trial for damages to be determined, and Davis has clearly been selected to serve as an example to anyone who might
Bunning’s ruling accuses Davis of purposely evading the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized men “marrying” men and women “marrying” women in the U.S. “It is readily apparent that Obergefell recognizes Plaintiffs’ Fourteenth Amendment right to marry. It is also readily apparent that Davis made a conscious decision to violate Plaintiffs’ right,” Bunning wrote.
A March 19 statement from Liberty Counsel, which is representing Davis, said they will argue in court that their client is not responsible for damages since Kentucky allows clerks to opt out of issuing hunting and fishing licenses. Also, the state passed a law allowing for a religious exemption in the issuance of marriage licenses, the statement said.
“Kim Davis is entitled to protection to an accommodation based on her sincere religious belief,” read a statement from Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver. “This case raises serious First Amendment free exercise of religion claims and has a high potential of reaching the Supreme Court.”
In July 2015, following the Supreme Court ruling, Davis denied Ermold and Moore a marriage license “under God’s authority,” according to the court document. The couple were denied two more times, while Yates and Smith were denied a marriage license five times. Both couples were finally awarded a license and Davis was jailed for contempt of court.
Michael Gartland, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told WKYT his clients “could not be more happy” with Bunning’s March 19 ruling.