Kentucky clerk faces judgment day in same-sex marriage dispute

Kentucky Clerk Defies Supreme Court on Gay Marriage


A county clerk in Kentucky who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on religious grounds heads to U.S. federal court on Thursday where a judge could hold her in contempt for defying his order to do so.

Lawyers for Kim Davis, the elected Rowan County clerk who is an Apostolic Christian, on Wednesday asked U.S. District Judge David Bunning to temporarily block his order requiring her to issue marriage licenses while she appeals.

Davis has refused to issue licenses to any couples, gay or straight, since the U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry under the U.S. Constitution, citing her religious beliefs.

Before the hearing, about 200 demonstrators on both sides gathered outside the courthouse, some chanting slogans and many holding signs.

Davis denies gay couples marriage licenses:

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The fight for marriage equality in Kentucky, County Clerk Kim Davis
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Kentucky clerk faces judgment day in same-sex marriage dispute
Rowan County clerk Kim Davis is shown in this booking photo provided by the Carter County Detention Center in Grayson, Kentucky September 3, 2015. Davis was jailed on Thursday for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, and a full day of court hearings failed to put an end to her two-month-old legal fight over a U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding same-sex marriage. REUTERS/Carter County Detention Center/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - RTX1R0AF
MOREHEAD, KY - SEPTEMBER 04: Michael Long (left) and Timothy Long, of Rowan County, raise their hands in front of a crowd of supporters after receiving their legal marriage license at the Rowan County Courthouse September 4, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. Kim Davis, an Apostolic Christian and a Rowan County clerk, refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling, citing religious objections. Davis was held in contempt of court and placed in Carter County jail on Thursday, September 3rd. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
MOREHEAD, KY - SEPTEMBER 04: A deputy clerk of the Clerk of Courts office fills out a marriage license for Timothy and Michael Long in the Rowan County Courthouse on Friday, September 4, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. Michael and Timothy live in Rowan County Kentucky. Kim Davis, an Apostolic Christian and a Rowan County clerk, refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling, citing religious objections. Davis was held in contempt of court and placed in Carter County jail on Thursday, September 3rd. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
MOREHEAD, KY - SEPTEMBER 14: Shannon (left) and Carmen Wampler-Collins walk out of the Rowan County Courthouse after receiving a legal marriage license from one of the Deputy Clerk of Courts September 14, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. Rowan County clerk Kim Davis was jailed for disobeying a judge's order for denying marriage licenses to gay couples on the basis of her religious faith. Today was Davis' first day back to work, after being released from jail last week. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
Kentucky's Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, makes remarks after receiving the "Cost of Discipleship" award at a Family Research Council conference in Washington September 25, 2015. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan/File Photo
MOREHEAD, KY - SEPTEMBER 4: Jesse Cruz receives a hug from a same sex marriage supporter after he and his partner, Robbie Blankenship, received their legal marriage license at the Rowan County Courthouse on September 4, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. Blankenship and Cruz, of Columbus, Ohio, went to the Clerk of Courts office this past Wednesday and were denied a marriage license by the Rowan County Clerk of Courts Kim Davis.Davis, an Apostolic Christian and a Rowan County clerk, refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling, citing religious objections. Davis was held in contempt of court and placed in Carter County jail on Thursday, September 3rd. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
MOREHEAD, KY - SEPTEMBER 04: Michael Long and Timothy Long, of Rowan County, kiss in front of a crowd of supporters after receiving their legal marriage license at the Rowan County Courthouse September 4, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. Kim Davis, an Apostolic Christian and a Rowan County clerk, refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling, citing religious objections. Davis was held in contempt of court and placed in Carter County jail on Thursday, September 3rd. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
MOREHEAD, KY - SEPTEMBER 2: Robbie Blankenship (L) stands next to his partner of 20 years, Jesse Cruz, of Corpus Christie, Texas, as they speak with Rowan County Clerk of Courts Kim Davis at the County Clerks Office on September 2, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. Citing a sincere religious objection, Davis, an Apostolic Christian, has refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
MOREHEAD, KY - SEPTEMBER 2: Kim Davis, the Rowan County Clerk of Courts, listens to Robbie Blankenship and Jesse Cruz as they speak with her at the County Clerks Office on September 2, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. Citing a sincere religious objection, Davis, an Apostolic Christian, has refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
MOREHEAD, KY - SEPTEMBER 2: Robbie Blankenship (L) and his partner of 20 years, Jesse Cruz, of Corpus Christie, Texas, leave the Rowan County Clerks Office after being denied a marriage license on September 2, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. Citing a sincere religious objection, Kim Davis, the Rowan County Clerk of Courts, who is an Apostolic Christian, has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
ASHLAND, KY - SEPTEMBER 3: Same-sex marriage supports demonstrate on the steps of the federal courthouse during Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis's hearing on September 3, 2015 in Ashland, Kentucky. Davis was held in contempt of court today after refusing a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
MOREHEAD, KY - SEPTEMBER 04: A same sex marriage supporter wears badges on the back of her back pack during a protest in front of the Rowan County Courthouse September 4, 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. Kim Davis, an Apostolic Christian and a Rowan County clerk, refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling, citing religious objections. Davis was held in contempt of court and placed in Carter County jail on Thursday, September 3rd. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis speaks during an interview on Fox News Channel's 'The Kelly File' in New York September 23, 2015. A federal judge on Wednesday denied Davis a stay of his order requiring her office to issue marriage licenses to all eligible couples who want one, the latest setback for the Kentucky county clerk who went to jail rather than issue licenses to gay couples. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Demonstrators stand on the front steps of the federal building waving a rainbow flag in protest of Rowan County clerk Kim Davis' arrival to attend a contempt of court hearing for her refusal to issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples at the United States District Court in Ashland, Kentucky, September 3, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Tilley
Kim Davis hugs her attorney Mathew Staver (R) after walking out of jail in Grayson, Kentucky September 8, 2015. U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered her release after six days in jail, saying she "shall not interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples." REUTERS/Chris Tilley
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Warren Howard of Ashland said he wants Davis to do her job or quit.

"Seems like every time something backwards happens, Kentucky's on the sides of the backwardness," he said. "And the thing about it is, it's not true. Most of the people I speak to realize this shouldn't have went on for as long as it has."

More came out to show support for Davis. One man held a sign saying, "Don't make a moral wrong, a civil right."

Theresa Craig from nearby Carter County, Kentucky, said the courts were a disgrace for not backing Davis.

"Ms. Kim Davis, she's doing the right thing," Craig said. "She's just standing up for her God, which as Christians we need to do."

SEE ALSO: Kim Davis dealt with nepotism charges

Back in Morehead, Kentucky, phones at the clerk's office rang busy and a sign on the door from Davis said the office was closed for the day as she and her staff appear in Ashland for the hearing. Davis said the office would reopen on Friday.

In July, four couples filed a federal lawsuit challenging Davis' policy not to issue licenses and Bunning in August ruled for the couples, finding that Davis had to live up to her official duties as a county clerk despite her religious beliefs.

Davis has appealed his order to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which turned down her request for a stay pending appeal last week. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday also turned down her request for an emergency stay.

Same-sex couples on Tuesday filed a motion asking Bunning to hold her in contempt of court, seeking fines but no jail time.

"To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue," Davis said in a statement this week. "It is about marriage and God's word. It is a matter of religious liberty."

Davis is represented by Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based Christian religious advocacy organization, which said in court papers on Wednesday an injunction would halt the "irreversible implications on Davis' conscience" while she appeals the case.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, a Democrat, ordered all county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but said he had no authority over Davis' office. Davis is also a Democrat.


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