MOREHEAD, Ky. — April Miller and Karen Roberts stood before a minister Saturday night, hand-in-hand, and said the two words they fought for months to exchange.
The people packed into the room around them jumped into a standing ovation. They all wore matching rainbow buttons that read #LoveWins.
The couple, the first denied a license by Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, celebrated their wedding Saturday, capping a months-long saga that landed them in the middle of a national firestorm over religious freedom and civil rights.
They laid out one rule for their guests: no one was to mention Davis.
“This is about us and our wedding,” Roberts said.
When the Supreme Court effectively legalized same-sex marriage across the nation in June, Davis cited “God’s authority” and stopped issuing marriage licenses. Miller and Roberts, along with three other couples, filed a lawsuit against her.
Davis continued to refuse them, again and again, in defiance of a series of federal court orders. U.S. District Judge David Bunning held her in contempt on Sept. 3 and ordered her to jail.
Miller and Roberts, a couple for 11 years caring for a disabled daughter together, got a license the next day, issued by a deputy clerk who agreed to sign them in Davis’ absence. The couple, who still had to return the license to the clerk’s office for recording, worried about what might happen once Davis got back to work. So they scrambled together a private wedding, alone at their home, the following Thursday.
Roberts said it was not how she imagined her wedding would be. So they held a second ceremony Saturday in a reception hall at the Pines at Sheltowee in Morehead and invited 125: friends, family and dozens of people they met just four months ago, on the courthouse lawn outside Davis’ office.
On June 30, the morning after the clerk announced she would not issue licenses, couples and activists flocked to the courthouse. They returned day after day, and over time formed friendships and a grassroots advocacy group they called the Rowan County Rights Coalition.