A U.S. District Court has dismissed three lawsuits against antigay Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, saying that changes in the law since their filing in 2015 — and the continued ability of same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses — make them essentially irrelevant.
“In light of these proceedings, and in view of the fact that the marriage licenses continue to the issued without incident,” the court wrote, “there no longer remains a case or controversy before the Court.”
When the suits first came before the court in 2015, the plaintiffs were granted a preliminary injunction and Davis was ordered to issue marriage licenses to anyone qualified to marry in the state of Kentucky. While Davis sought to appeal the rulings, by the time arguments were scheduled to begin, the state had passed a law removing clerk’s names from marriage licenses. Davis asked that the appeals be dismissed. The ACLU agreed and the Sixth Circuit said the issues raised were now moot and ordered the court to vacate the injunctions.
The court lays out in its order how life just carried on while Davis held out hope for a reversal:
While these appeals were pending, marriage licenses were issued without incident. Matt Bevin also won the Kentucky gubernatorial election. Upon taking office, Governor Bevin signed an executive order removing the names of County Clerks from marriage licenses. This executive order eventually led to the proposal of Kentucky Senate Bill 216 (“SB 216”), which creates a new marriage license form that does not require the County Clerk’s signature. On April 1, 2016, the Kentucky Senate passed SB 216. Governor Bevin signed it into law less than two weeks later.
Friday, the court finally struck the cases from its docket, effectively washing its hands of Davis.
And yet, the Liberty Counsel, which represented Davis, cast the order as a victory.
“Kim Davis has won! We celebrate this victory for her and for every American,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel in a press release. “County clerks are now able to perform their public service without being forced to compromise their religious liberty. The case is now closed and the door has been shut on the ACLU’s attempt to assess damages against Kim Davis. This victory is not just for Kim Davis. It is a victory for everyone who wants to remain true to their deeply-held religious beliefs regarding marriage while faithfully serving the public.”
But LGBTQ couples are the real winners, because public servants like Davis can no longer stand between same-sex couples and their right to wed.