Kentucky clerk again asks for delay on gay-marriage licenses

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- A Kentucky county clerk who was recently jailed for denying same-sex couples marriage licenses filed an appeal Friday that asks for another delay in issuing the licenses.

Attorneys for Kim Davis, who objects to gay marriage on religious grounds, argued in their motion to the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that all the same-sex couples who sued Davis for a license received one from her deputies while she was in jail. Therefore, they said, her office should not be required to issue them to any more couples once she returns to work.

SEE MORE: Defiant Kentucky clerk's backers want aides fired over marriage licenses to gays

U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning wrote that his mandate to issue licenses applied to all couples, not only those who filed suit. But Davis' lawyers allege that order was issued improperly, and again have asked for a delay.

"I hate to use a religious metaphor, given the circumstances," said Sam Marcosson, a constitutional law professor at the University of Louisville, "but this strikes me as a Hail Mary pass."

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit against Davis on behalf of four couples, two straight and two gay, who were denied licenses after the Supreme Court in June effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide. When Davis refused Bunning's order to issue licenses, the judge declared the clerk in contempt of court and jailed her for five days.

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Kim Davis (Kentucky clerk) since her release from jail
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Kentucky clerk again asks for delay on gay-marriage licenses
ABC NEWS - 9/21/15 - Paula Faris speaks to Kim Davis, the Kentucky court clerk who went to jail because she refused to issue gay marriage licenses. The exclusive interview will air on all ABC News programs and platforms. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images) PAULA FARIS, KIM DAVIS
ABC NEWS - 9/21/15 - Paula Faris speaks to Kim Davis, the Kentucky court clerk who went to jail because she refused to issue gay marriage licenses. The exclusive interview will air on all ABC News programs and platforms. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images) PAULA FARIS, KIM DAVIS, MATHEW STAVER (ATTORNEY)
ABC NEWS - 9/21/15 - Paula Faris speaks to Kim Davis, the Kentucky court clerk who went to jail because she refused to issue gay marriage licenses. The exclusive interview will air on all ABC News programs and platforms. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images) KIM DAVIS
Surrounded by Rowan County Sheriff's deputies, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, center, with her son Nathan Davis standing by her side, makes a statement to the media at the front door of the Rowan County Judicial Center in Morehead, Ky., Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. Davis announced that her office will issue marriage licenses under order of a federal judge, but they will not have her name or office listed. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, right, with her son Nathan Davis at her side, makes a statement to the media at the front door of the Rowan County Judicial Center in Morehead, Ky., Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. Davis announced that her office will issue marriage licenses under order of a federal judge, but they will not have her name or office listed. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis makes a statement to the media at the front door of the Rowan County Judicial Center in Morehead, Ky., Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. Davis announced that her office will issue marriage licenses under order of a federal judge, but they will not have her name or office listed. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
MOREHEAD, KY - SEPTEMBER 14: Rowan County clerk Kim Davis walks through the halls of the courthouse on her first day back to work, after being released from jail last week, at the Rowan County Courthouse September 14, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. Davis was jailed for disobeying a judges order for denying marriage licenses to gay couples on the basis of her religious faith. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
GRAYSON, KY - SEPTEMBER 8: Rowan County Clerk of Courts Kim Davis (L) holds her hands in the air with her attorney Mat Staver (C) and her husband Joe Davis (R) in front of the Carter County Detention Center on September 8, 2015 in Grayson, Kentucky. Davis was ordered to jail last week for contempt of court after refusing a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, with Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, left, at her side, greets the crowd after being released from the Carter County Detention Center, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, in Grayson, Ky. Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, was released Tuesday after five days behind bars. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis pauses as she speaks after being released from the Carter County Detention Center, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, in Grayson, Ky. Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, was released Tuesday after five days behind bars. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
GRAYSON, KY - SEPTEMBER 8: Rowan County Clerk of Courts Kim Davis (2L) joins hands with her attorney Mat Staver (2R), husband Joe Davis (R) and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee (L) in front of the Carter County Detention Center on September 8, 2015 in Grayson, Kentucky. Davis was ordered to jail last week for contempt of court after refusing a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, with Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, left, at her side, greets the crowd after being released from the Carter County Detention Center, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, in Grayson, Ky. Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, was released Tuesday after five days behind bars. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, center with Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, left, and attorney Mat Staver, right, founder of the Liberty Counsel, the Christian law firm representing Davis, at her side, greets the crowd after being released from the Carter County Detention Center, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, in Grayson, Ky. Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, was released Tuesday after five days behind bars. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
GRAYSON, KY - SEPTEMBER 8: Rowan County Clerk of Courts Kim Davis (L) walks off stage with her husband Joe Davis (R) in front of the Carter County Detention Center on September 8, 2015 in Grayson, Kentucky. Davis was ordered to jail last week for contempt of court after refusing a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
GRAYSON, KY - SEPTEMBER 8: Kim Davis, Clerk of Courts in Rowan County, Kentucky, looks over at Mike Huckabee after she was released from six days of incarceration at the Carter County Detention Center on September 8, 2015 in Grayson, Kentucky. Davis was ordered to jail last week for contempt of court after refusing a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
Musicians lead protesters in hymns outside the Carter County Detention Center in Grayson, Ky., Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015. Presidential candidates former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz each planned jailhouse meetings Tuesday with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who remains behind bars over her refusal to give marriage licenses to gay couples. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
GRAYSON, KY - SEPTEMBER 8: People hold signs in support of Rowan County Clerk of Courts Kim Davis during a rally in front of the Carter County Detention Center on September 8, 2015 in Grayson, Kentucky. Davis was ordered to jail last week for contempt of court after refusing a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
This Thursday, Aug. 3, 2015 photo made available by the Carter County Detention Center shows Kim Davis. The Rowan County, Ky. clerk went to jail Thursday for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, but five of her deputies agreed to comply with the law, ending a two-month standoff. (Carter County Detention Center via AP)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, right, talks with David Moore following her office's refusal to issue marriage licenses at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Although her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied, Davis still refuses to issue marriage licenses. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis listens to a customer following her office's refusal to issue marriage licenses at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Although her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied, Davis still refuses to issue marriage licenses. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, center, talks with protesters following her office's refusal to issue marriage licenses at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Tuesday, Sep. 1, 2015. Although her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied, Davis still refuses to issue marriage licenses. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, foreground left, is greeted as she arrives for work at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Davis' appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was turned down on Monday, and now she is under federal orders to begin issuing marriage licenses. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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In her absence, her deputy clerks issued licenses and both same-sex couples who sued her received one. But Bunning clarified his order to include all eligible couples who request a marriage license.

In the appeal filed Friday, Davis' lawyers, with the Christian law firm Liberty Counsel, argued that Bunning issued the clarification improperly and once again asked the appeals court to delay the mandate that she issue licenses.

The appeals court has already dismissed Davis' primary argument that her religious faith should exempt her from licensing a gay marriage. "It cannot be defensibly argued that the holder of the Rowan County Clerk's office, apart from who personally occupies that office, may decline to act in conformity with the United States Constitution as interpreted by a dispositive holding of the United States Supreme Court," a panel wrote two weeks ago when it rejected her last appeal.

If the court does not respond before Davis returns to work on Monday, she will have to choose whether to allow her office to continue issuing licenses or again disobey the judge who already sent her to jail.

The tension in Rowan County reached fever pitch last week, as protesters, presidential candidates and news crews from across the county descended on the small town of Morehead. To ratchet it up further, members of the Oath Keepers, a heavily armed civilian militia, announced they would travel to Kentucky to protect Davis and ensure she "will not be illegally detained again." Any such protection could put the Oath Keepers in conflict with the U.S. Marshals, who were ordered to detain Davis after she defied a federal court order.

The Oath Keepers received national attention last year when they showed up in Ferguson, Missouri, amid the riots following the police shooting death of Michael Brown.

Rowan County Judge Executive Walter Blevins confirmed the Oath Keepers are already in Morehead.

"I think my sheriff is ready to handle the situation, but in a civilized and mannerly way," Blevins said.

Late Friday, the group posted on its website that Davis' lawyers declined its offer to protect her from the Marshals, and called on its "security volunteers" to stand down.

Since Bunning first ordered Davis to issue the marriage licenses, the clerk and her attorneys have made several attempts to legally get around it. One of their strategies was to ask Bunning to stop Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and Library and Archives Commissioner Wayne Onkst from directing Davis to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Bunning denied that request on Friday.

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