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Kentucky clerk sued for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples

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The lawsuit, filed in United States District Court in Ashland, Kentucky, requests an injunction ordering Davis to begin issuing licenses. It alleges that her policy is unconstitutional and asks for punitive damages for violating the four couples’ rights.

April Miller and Karen Roberts, a couple for 11 years who live in Morehead, told The Associated Press that they asked for a license Tuesday and were told to try another county.

Another gay couple, L. Aaron Skaggs and Barry Spartman, called the Rowan County clerk’s office Tuesday and asked to apply for a license. An employee on the phone said, “Don’t bother coming down here,” according to the lawsuit, and told them the clerk was refusing to issue licenses.

Two opposite-sex couples also tried to get licenses and were told by staff that none would be issued, the lawsuit alleges.

The clerks have argued that if they issue a license to no one, they cannot be accused of discrimination. Kentucky state law allows adult couples seeking marriage licenses to get them from any county. If a marriage involves minors, however, they must get their license in the county where they live.

The four couples who filed suit say that because they live, work, vote and pay taxes in Rowan County, they have a right to file for a marriage license there.

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In the lawsuit, ACLU legal director William Sharp wrote that Davis’ religious conviction “is not a compelling, important or legitimate government interest.”

One of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit, Laura Landenwich, wrote that Davis “has the absolute right to believe whatever she wants about God, faith, and religion, but as a government official who swore an oath to uphold the law, she cannot pick and choose who she is going to serve, or which duties her office will perform based on her religious beliefs.”

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