MOREHEAD, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky clerk’s office on Thursday again refused to issue a marriage license to a gay couple, in defiance of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage across the country two months ago. Then she temporarily shut her office.
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has refused to issue any marriage licenses, citing her Christian faith and constitutional right to religious freedom, since the landmark decision in June.
On Thursday morning, a deputy clerk in her office refused to issue a marriage license to William Smith Jr. and James Yates. It was their third attempt to get a license.
They said they will not give up.
“They just don’t like gay people, they don’t want us to get married,” Yates said. “And they’d rather burn the earth and not let straight people in Rowan County get married either.”
By early afternoon, Davis had temporarily closed her office for “computer upgrades,” said a note posted on her door. The note indicated the office would reopen in an hour.
The action Thursday came just a day after a federal appeals court upheld a ruling ordering the clerk in rural Rowan County to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
U.S. District Judge David Bunning had already ordered Davis to issue marriage licenses two weeks ago. He later delayed that ruling until Aug. 31 or until the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling. The appeals court did so on Wednesday, denying Davis’ appeal.
But a deputy clerk in Davis’ office told Smith and Yates on Thursday that the office believes Bunning’s delay remains in effect until Aug. 31. He refused to give his name or give them a license.
Davis, meanwhile, sat in her office with the door closed. She talked on the phone, ignoring the commotion as the couples, trailed by activists and reporters, poured in through the door and demanded answers.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued her last month on behalf of April Miller and Karen Roberts, a second gay couple and two straight couples. A U.S. district judge ordered Davis to issue the marriage licenses, but later delayed his order so that Davis could have time to appeal to the 6th circuit.
Miller said they felt vindicated by the federal court ruling. They got out the boxes holding their matching wedding bands, bought days after the Supreme Court’s decision in June. They are simple white gold bands, ringed in diamonds.
“One step closer,” Miller said. “We might be able to get married in September.”