Judge rules former KY clerk Kim Davis violated constitutional rights of same-sex marriage couples

Kim Davis's mugshot
Photo: mugshot

A judge has ruled that former Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis violated the constitutional rights of two gay couples, to whom she refused to provide marriage licenses.

Davis’s refusal to grant the licenses took place back in 2015 after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality in Obergefell v. Hodges. She said she was acting “under God’s authority.”

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Davis or someone in her office denied both couples licenses multiple times. Eventually, they received them from a deputy clerk while Davis was jailed for five days for contempt of court.

Judges ruled that although sovereign immunity protects Davis from being sued in her official capacity as a county clerk, she can still be sued on a personal level.

David Ermold and David Moore, along with James Yates and Will Smith, sued Davis for the “mental anguish, emotional distress, humiliation and reputation damages” she caused.

“It is readily apparent that Obergefell recognizes Plaintiffs’ Fourteenth Amendment right to marry. It is also readily apparent that Davis made a conscious decision to violate Plaintiffs’ right,” wrote U.S. Judge David Bunning in the ruling.

A jury trial must now take place to determine damages.

“The plaintiffs could not be more happy,” Ermold and Moore’s attorney Michael Gartland told WKYT. “As the court notes in the decision, this case has been pending since 2015. They couldn’t be more happy that they’re finally going to get their day in court and they’re confident justice will be served.”

Davis is represented by the anti-LGBTQ Liberty Counsel, a Southern Poverty Law Center Designated Hate Group that continues to argue Davis is not responsible for damages due to religious exemptions.

“Kim Davis is entitled to protection to an accommodation based on her sincere religious belief,” said the organization’s founder and chairman Mat Staver in a statement. “This case raises serious First Amendment free exercise of religion claims and has a high potential of reaching the Supreme Court.”

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