MOREHEAD, Ky. (AP) — A gay couple emerged from a Kentucky county clerk’s office with a marriage license in hand Friday morning, embracing and crying as the defiant clerk who runs the office remained jailed for her refusal to issue the licenses because she opposed same-sex marriage.
William Smith Jr. and James Yates, a couple for nearly a decade, were the first to receive a marriage license Friday morning in Rowan County. Deputy clerk Brian Mason issued the license, congratulating the couple and shaking their hands as he smiled. After they paid the license fee of $35.50, James Yates rushed across the steps of the courthouse to hug his mom as both cried.
“This means at least for this area that civil rights are civil rights and they are not subject to belief,” said Yates, who had been denied a license five times previously. He said he and Smith were optimistic they would get a license when they arrived, in part because the deputy clerk, Mason, had always been respectful when they came previously.
A crowd of supporters cheered outside as the couple left, while a street preacher rained down words of condemnation. Yates and Smith said they are trying to choose between two wedding dates and plan a small ceremony at the home of Yates’ parents.
The licenses were issued only after five of Kim Davis’ deputy clerks agreed to issue the licenses, the lone holdout from the office being her son, Nathan Davis. Her office was dark Friday morning as the license was issued to Yates and Smith, with a sheriff’s deputy standing guard in front of it.
“I just want the licenses given out. I don’t want her in jail. No one wanted her in jail,” Yates said.