OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky county clerk may have again defied a federal judge’s order by altering marriage license forms to remove her name, according to an attorney that represents one of the clerk’s employees.
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis spent five days in jail for refusing to obey a federal judge’s ruling that she issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Davis, an Apostolic Christian, believes same-sex marriage is a sin and cited “God’s authority” in refusing to issue the licenses.
While Davis was in jail, deputy clerk Brian Mason issued the licenses to same-sex couples. U.S. District Judge David Bunning then released Davis from jail, but ordered her not to interfere with Mason or any other employee who issued the licenses, or else risk returning to jail. Bunning appointed attorneys for each of Davis’ employees and asked them to file status reports with the court every two weeks.
On Friday, Mason’s attorney told the judge that when Davis returned to work Monday she “confiscated all the original forms” and replaced them with forms that delete her name, the name of the county and all references to the deputy clerks. The new form has Mason’s name and a place for him to write his initials but not his signature.
“It also appears to this counsel those changes were made in some attempt to circumvent the court’s orders and may have raised to the level of interference against the court’s orders,” attorney Richard Hughes wrote. “Mr. Mason is concerned because he is in a difficult position that he continues to issue the licenses per the court’s order … which had some remote questionable validity, but now with these changes may in fact have some substantial questions about validity.”
State law requires marriage licenses to be issued under the authority of the county clerk. Someone else, a minister or other officiant, then performs the ceremony and signs the license. The clerk then files the license with county records.