Politics & Government

Judge dismisses marriage license lawsuits against Kim Davis

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis with son Nathan Davis, a deputy clerk, spoke to the press outside the Rowan County Courthouse on Sept. 14, 2015.
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis with son Nathan Davis, a deputy clerk, spoke to the press outside the Rowan County Courthouse on Sept. 14, 2015. palcala@herald-leader.com

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed three lawsuits pending against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis over her refusal to issue marriage licenses in 2015, following the legalization of same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The issue is now settled, U.S. District Judge David Bunning wrote in his order. At Davis’ request, Gov. Matt Bevin and the General Assembly changed state law this year to remove county clerks’ names from marriage licenses. And in Rowan County, one of Davis’ deputy clerks has been issuing licenses to all couples, same-sex and opposite-sex, since Davis was briefly jailed for contempt of court last summer after violating Bunning’s order to resume issuing licenses.

“In light of these proceedings, and in view of the fact that the marriage licenses continue to be issued without incident, there no longer remains a case or controversy before the court,” Bunning wrote.

The fight for marriage licenses in Eastern Kentucky’s Rowan County became international news last year, turning Davis into a symbol of conservative resistance to the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling.

Davis said she could not agree to provide a marriage license to same-sex couples because of her Apostolic Christian beliefs. To avoid discrimination against anyone, she said, she stopped providing licenses to all couples. A handful of couples wishing to wed then sued Davis, alleging a violation of their civil rights.

“We celebrate this victory for (Davis) and for every American,” said Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, the religious advocacy organization that represented the clerk. “County clerks are now able to perform their public service without being forced to compromise their religious liberty.”

The Kentucky ACLU and private attorneys for the couples did not immediately return calls seeking comment Friday.

John Cheves: 859-231-3266, @BGPolitics

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