Judge Finally Tells Kentucky Clerk That Denying Same-Sex Marriage Licenses Violates Rights
Kim Davis cannot use her right to religious freedom to "violate the constitutional rights of others," ruled U.S. District Judge David Bunning.
A federal judge has ruled that Kim Davis, who was a county clerk in Kentucky, violated the constitutional rights of same-sex couples to whom she repeatedly denied marriage licenses.
Davis, who made headlines and became a hero to many conservatives in 2015, claimed her right to religious beliefs allowed her to deny the licenses even though the Supreme Court had legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
U.S. District Judge David Bunning in Ashland said in his ruling Friday that Davis “cannot use her own constitutional rights as a shield to violate the constitutional rights of others while performing her duties as an elected official.”
It’s “apparent” the plaintiffs have a 14th Amendment “right to marry,” the judge wrote. “It is also readily apparent that Davis made a conscious decision to violate Plaintiffs’ right,” he added.
The case involved just two couples, but Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to any same-sex couples who sought them while she was clerk of Rowan County.
A lower court judge ordered her in 2015 to issue the licenses, and she was jailed for five days for contempt of court when she defied him. She was released only after her staff issued the licenses on her behalf but removed her name from the form. The state legislature later passed a law removing the names of all county clerks from marriage licenses.
A jury must now decide, likely next month, what damages Davis owes the plaintiffs.
Davis lost her reelection bid to the Rowan County clerkship to her Democratic challenger in 2018.