Crime

Couples who sued Kim Davis seek order halting use of altered marriage licenses

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, with son Nathan Davis, a deputy clerk, read a statement Monday outside the Rowan County Courthouse as she returned to work.
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, with son Nathan Davis, a deputy clerk, read a statement Monday outside the Rowan County Courthouse as she returned to work. Herald-Leader

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has interfered with the issuance of marriage forms by her office, raising a concern about the validity of licenses issued since Sept. 14, attorneys for couples who sued Davis argued Monday.

The attorneys filed a motion asking U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning to order deputy clerks to use the state's standard form for marriage licenses.

Davis disagrees with same-sex marriage, saying it conflicts with her conservative Christian views. After the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, she stopped issuing any marriage licenses so she wouldn't have to give one to a gay couple.

She went to jail for five days in defiance of Bunning's order to issue licenses.

After a deputy clerk began issuing licenses and Bunning let Davis out of jail, she altered the standard license forms when she returned to her job on Sept. 14.

She made a new form that does not include her name or the name of the office, and instructed deputies to issue licenses as notaries public, not as county officials, according to court records.

That violates Bunning's order for Davis not to interfere with her deputies issuing licenses, the American Civil Liberties Union argued in the new motion.

The altered forms carry Davis' "stamp of animus" against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and signal that in Rowan County, members of that community are second-class citizens, the ACLU argued.

The motion seeks an order for deputy clerks to use the marriage license forms available before Davis changed them and to disregard instructions from Davis to alter the forms. It also wants Davis' office to issue new, unaltered forms to any couples who received licenses since Sept. 14.

The motion asks Bunning to warn Davis that further violations will bring sanctions, including receivership of the office for the limited purpose of issuing marriage licenses, and stiff fines.

"It's sad that Ms. Davis has continued to interfere with the basic constitutional right of all loving couples to marry and that the plaintiff couples have to ask the court to intervene once again," said James Esseks, director of the ACLU's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project.

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