TIME Kentucky

Kentucky Clerk Asks Supreme Court to Intervene in Gay Marriage License Case

Kim Davis
Timothy D. Easley—AP Rowan County Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis speaks to a gathering of supporters during a Religious Freedoms Rally on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort Ky. on Aug. 22, 2015.

Kim Davis pleads for "asylum for her conscience" as she denies marriage licenses to gay couples for religious reasons

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) — Two months after it legalized gay marriage nationwide, the U.S. Supreme Court is being asked by a Kentucky county clerk for permission to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis objects to same-sex marriage for religious reasons. The Supreme Court says the constitution guarantees gay people have the right to marry, but Davis contends the First Amendment guarantees her the right of religious freedom.

She stopped issuing all marriage licenses the day after the Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide in June.

Two gay couples and two straight couples sued Davis, arguing she must fulfill her duties as an elected official. A federal judge ordered Davis to issue the licenses and an appeals court upheld that decision. Davis’ lawyers said they petitioned the Supreme Court on Friday to delay that decision until her appeal is finished, a process that could take months.

Her attorneys with the Christian law firm Liberty Counsel wrote in their appeal to the court that Davis is seeking “asylum for her conscience.”

Justice Elena Kagan, who joined the majority opinion effectively legalized gay marriage in the U.S., will hear Davis’ case.

University of Louisville law professor Sam Marcosson said he believes Kagan will deny Davis’ request based on the court’s earlier decision.

Davis has refused to comply with several court orders in recent weeks, turning away gay couples over and over. She says they could easily drive to a nearby county to get a marriage license. But gay couples argue they have a right to get a marriage license in the county where they live, work and pay taxes.

Davis has said she will not resign her $80,000-a-year job and will never issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — even if the Supreme Court denies her request.

“If a (same-sex marriage) license is issued with Davis’ name, authorization and approval, no one can unring that bell,” she wrote the court. “That searing act of validation would forever echo in her conscience.”

Her attorney, Jonathan D. Christman, wrote that forcing her to issue licenses is akin to forcing a person who objects to war into the battlefield, or forcing a person against capital punishment to carry out an execution.

Davis cannot be fired because she is an elected official. The Legislature could impeach her, but that is unlikely given that many state lawmakers share her beliefs. The Republican president of the state Senate spoke at a rally last week in support of Davis.

The gay couples that sued her could ask U.S. District Judge David Bunning to hold Davis in contempt. That would trigger another court hearing and would likely include testimony from Davis herself. The judge could then order hefty fines or even put her in jail until she complies with the order.

TIME

Kentucky Clerk Defies Court Order to Issue Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples

Kim Davis
Timothy D. Easley—AP Rowan County Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis speaks to a gathering of supporters during a Religious Freedoms Rally on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort Ky. on Aug. 22, 2015.

"It's getting tedious"

(MOREHEAD, Ky.) — A clerk in a rural Kentucky county continued to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples Thursday, in defiance of a mounting pile of federal court orders that reject her claim that her Christian faith should exempt her from licensing a gay union.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis will now ask the United States Supreme Court, which two months ago legalized gay marriage across the nation, to delay the mandate to issue licenses until her appeal is complete, a process that could drag out for several more months.

“It’s getting tedious. We get torn down, built back up, torn down, built back up,” said David Ermold. He and his partner, David Moore, have been rejected by Davis’ office twice. “It’s emotionally draining that this keeps happening over and over.”

Days after the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling, Davis announced that her religious convictions prevented her from sanctioning a gay marriage, so refused to issue licenses to any couple, gay or straight.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued her last month on behalf of four couples. U.S. District Judge David Bunning 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 on Thursday told William Smith Jr. and James Yates, a couple for nearly a decade, that the office believes Bunning’s delay remains in effect until Aug. 31. He refused to give his name or give them a license.

“The court of appeals did not provide any religious accommodation rights to individuals, which makes little sense because at the end of the day it’s individuals that are carrying out the acts of the office,” said Mat Staver, whose religious law firm Liberty Counsel is representing Davis. “They don’t lose their individual constitutional rights just because they are employed in a public office.”

Davis, meanwhile, sat in her office with the door closed. She talked on the phone, ignoring the commotion as Yates and Smith, trailed by television cameras, poured in through the door and demanded answers.

Her appeal to the nation’s highest court will fall to Justice Elena Kagan, who oversees the 6th Circuit. Kagan, a liberal judge, sided with the majority this summer when it rules gay marriage bans unconstitutional.

Kagan could reject it outright in a matter of days, which would exhaust Davis’ options for appeal, said Sam Marcosson, a constitutional law professor at the University of Louisville.

“Once the stay is denied then the question will be right there on the front burner of whether she will comply because there will be no further avenue for her, no further roads she can cross or take to try to delay,” Marcosson said.

The question will then become what Davis will choose to do.

She has said she will not resign and pledged to never issue a license to same-sex couples. She can only be removed from office if the state Legislature impeaches her, which is unlikely.

If she continues to ignore the courts’ orders, the couples’ attorneys are likely to ask Bunning to hold her in contempt of court, which triggers a new round of hearing, evidence and testimony.

The law offers the judge wide discretion on how to force her hand: he can sanction her with fines, or order that she be jailed.

Activists with signs and rainbow umbrellas lined up along the street outside her window, shouting “Do your job.” Later, Davis temporarily closed her office for “computer upgrades,” and posted a note on the door that the office would reopen in an hour.

Casey County Clerk Casey Davis, also opposed to issuing licenses to same-sex couples, got on his bike at 4:30 a.m. Thursday and began cycling more than 450 miles across the state to bring attention to Davis’ predicament. It will take him an estimated 44 hours to complete.

“I cannot let my sister go to jail without my doing something to let others know about her plight,” Casey said in the statement. Although the two are not related by blood, The Family Foundation says they are bonded by religious conviction.

Yates and Smith say that they have conviction, too.

Two months ago, the day after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage across the nation, Yates got down on one knee and proposed to Smith, his partner of nearly a decade.

They wanted to plan a summer wedding, so went days later to Davis’ office for a license, and were turned away. That first time, they were shocked by the rejection. When they were rejected a second time, the shock turned to anger.

___

Beam reported from Frankfort, Kentucky.

 

TIME Kentucky

Kentucky Clerk Must Issue Marriage Licenses to Gay Couples, Appeals Court Rules

Rowan County Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis speaks to a gathering of supporters during a rally on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort Ky. on Aug. 22, 2015.
Timothy D. Easley—AP Rowan County Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis speaks to a gathering of supporters during a rally on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort Ky. on Aug. 22, 2015.

Kim Davis could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) — A federal appeals court has upheld a ruling ordering a Kentucky county clerk to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis objects to issuing same-sex marriage licenses for religious reasons. She stopped issuing marriage licenses the day after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned state bans on same-sex marriage.

Two gay couples and two straight couples sued her. 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. Wednesday, the appeals court denied Davis’ request for a stay.

An attorney for Davis said he was disappointed in the ruling and that Davis could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. He said he did not know how Davis would react to the ruling.

TIME Kentucky

Kentucky Clerk Gets Extra Time for Same-Sex Marriage License Appeal

Kentucky clerk same-sex marriage
Timothy D. Easley—AP Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, right, walks with her attorney Roger Gannam into the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Covington, Ky., July 20, 2015.

Kim Davis is taking her case to a federals appeals court after being ordered to issue a marriage license to same-sex couple

(MOREHEAD, Ky.) — A Kentucky county clerk who objects to same-sex marriage will not have to issue marriage licenses while she takes her case to a federal appeals court.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis is being sued by two gay couples. U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered Davis last week to issue the licenses despite her objections.

On Monday, he granted her request to stay his decision while she pursues her case before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Davis has refused to grant marriage license to anyone in Rowan County since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

TIME Kentucky

Kentucky Clerk Turns Away Gay Couple Seeking to Get Married

Kentucky clerk same-sex marriage
Timothy D. Easley—AP Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, right, walks with her attorney Roger Gannam into the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Covington, Ky., July 20, 2015.

Kim Davis has argued that her deeply held Christian beliefs prevent her from issuing licenses to same-sex couples

(MOREHEAD, Ky.) — A Kentucky clerk’s office turned away a gay couple seeking a marriage license on Thursday, defying a federal judge’s order that dismissed her argument involving religious freedom.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ office turned away David Moore and David Ermold just hours after a U.S. district judge ordered her to do the opposite.

Deputy clerk Nathan Davis says the office was advised by its attorneys with the Christian law firm Liberty Counsel to continue refusing same-sex couples as it appeals the ruling to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Kim Davis has argued that her deeply held Christian beliefs prevent her from issuing licenses to same-sex couples. After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled gay marriage bans unconstitutional, Davis stopped issuing licenses to any couple, gay or straight.

Five couples sued her, and U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning on Wednesday ordered her to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling.

He wrote that her refusal “likely violated the constitutional rights of her constituents.”

Ermold, in a tearful plea, called her actions “cruel” and said they were representative of the continued discrimination faced by gay couples.

In Kentucky, county clerks issue marriage licenses, but someone else must “solemnize” the marriage before the license can be filed with the county clerk. Davis argued that issuing a same-sex marriage license that contains her signature is the same as her approving the marriage, which she said violates her Christian beliefs. But Bunning rejected that argument, saying Davis has likely violated the U.S. Constitution’s ban on the government establishing a religion by “openly adopting a policy that promotes her own religious convictions at the expenses of others.”

“Davis remains free to practice her Apostolic Christian beliefs. She may continue to attend church twice a week, participate in Bible Study and minister to female inmates at the Rowan County Jail. She is even free to believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman, as many Americans do,” Bunning wrote. “However, her religious convictions cannot excuse her from performing the duties that she took an oath to perform as Rowan County Clerk.”

Laura Landenwich, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the 28-page ruling reveals that the judge painstakingly combed through each of Davis’ legal arguments and rejected each one. Bunning said that although couples could get marriage licenses elsewhere, “why should they be required to?” He noted the surrounding counties require 30 minutes or one hour of travel and there are many “in this rural region of the state who simply do not have the physical, financial or practical means to travel.”

Bunning said state law does not allow the county judge-executive to issue marriage licenses unless Davis is absent from her job, and Bunning refused to deem Davis absent because she has a religious objection. And Bunning said issuing a marriage license does not constitute speech, saying the marriage license form “does not require the county clerk to condone or endorse same-sex marriage on religious or moral grounds.”

TIME Kentucky

Judge Orders Kentucky Clerk to Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

Kim Davis Roger Gannam rowan county
Timothy D. Easley—AP Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, right, listens as her attorney Roger Gannam addresses the media on the steps of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Covington, Ky. on July 20, 2015.

Kim Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples for religious reasons

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) — A federal judge has ordered a Kentucky county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same sex-couples.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was one of a handful of local elected officials across the country that stopped issuing marriage licenses after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in June. She said issuing a marriage license to a gay couple would violate her Christian beliefs and argued the U.S. Constitution protected her religious freedoms.

Two gay couples and two straight couples in Rowan County sued her, asking a federal judge to order her to issue marriage licenses. U.S. District Judge David Bunning ruled Wednesday the couples should not be forced to travel to another county to get a marriage licenses. He said Davis should perform her assigned duties.

TIME Kentucky

Kentucky Sheriff’s Office Asks Drug Dealers to Turn In Their Rivals

"We offer a free service to help you eliminate your drug competition!"

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) — A Kentucky sheriff’s office has posted a flyer on its Facebook page asking drug dealers to turn in their rivals.

Multiple media outlets report the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office posted the flyer Monday afternoon. It features an image of a marijuana leaf and says, “Is your drug dealing competition costing you money? We offer a free service to help you eliminate your drug competition!”

Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton says the post is funny, but the sheriff’s department is not joking around.

At the bottom of the letter, people are asked to fill out information about the drug dealer they are reporting, including the dealer’s name and vehicle.

Melton says he got the idea from the McIntosh County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia.

As of Tuesday morning, the post had 394 online shares.

 

TIME Drones

Kentucky Man Arrested for Shooting Down a Drone Over His Property

Drone with Camera
Getty Images

"Everyone I've spoken to, including police, have said they would have done the same thing"

Kentucky police charged a man on Sunday for shooting down a drone that was flying over his home.

William H. Meredith, 47, told police in Hillview, Kentucky that his children alerted him to a camera-mounted drone hovering around the neighborhood. Meredith says he got his shotgun and waited for the drone to fly over his property before shooting, according to WDRB Louisville.

“Within a minute or so, here it came,” Meredith told WDRB. “It was hovering over top of my property, and I shot it out of the sky.”

Police arrested and charged Meredith with two felonies, first degree criminal mischief and first degree wanton endangerment. The owner reportedly told the police the drone was worth over $1800, and was being used to take pictures of a friend’s home.

FAA guidelines say drone pilots must receive permission from property owners pre-flight when flying over a residence — but a FAA spokesperson told local media that shooting at an unmanned aerial vehicle posed a bigger threat.

Meredith, however, said he had every right to take the law into his own hands. “Everyone I’ve spoken to, including police, have said they would have done the same thing,” he said.

[WDRB]

TIME Kentucky

Kentucky Governor Orders Clerk to Issue Marriage Licenses or Quit Job

County Clerk Casey Davis (C), with wife Christy Davis (R), speak to the media before a meeting with Gov. Steve Beshear in Frankfort, Ky., on July 9, 2015.
Pablo Alcala—Lexington Herald Leader via AP County Clerk Casey Davis (C), with wife Christy Davis (R), speak to the media before a meeting with Gov. Steve Beshear in Frankfort, Ky., on July 9, 2015.

Casey Davis is refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples

A county clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples for religious reasons said Thursday that Kentucky’s governor had ordered him to do his job or quit.

Casey Davis, one of three clerks in the state who is not granting licenses, held a meeting with Gov. Steve Beshear after last month’s ruling that upheld equal right to marriage across the country.

However, Beshear insisted clerks must carry out their duties and said the majority were “complying with the law” despite personal beliefs.

“‘Issue marriage licenses or resign’ — those were the words,” Davis told reporters after the meeting…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

Read next: Kentucky Clerk Sued for Not Issuing Gay-Marriage Licenses

TIME faith

Noah’s Ark Theme Park Gets a Helping Hand From the Amish

noahs ark encounter park kentucky
Ark Encounter

Construction underway despite funding issues

An embattled ministry building a replica of Noah’s Ark in Kentucky is getting a boost, thanks to the Amish.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Amish communities in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania are helping Answers in Genesis—a non-profit Christian ministry that advocates creationism—build Ark Encounter, the multi-million dollar theme park that the ministry says will include a full-size replica of the Biblical ark.

The project, first proposed in 2010, experienced a setback late last year when Kentucky officials denied $18 million in tax incentives to the group. The state’s tourism board said the project had “evolved from a tourism attraction to an extension of AiG’s ministry” and that state incentives would violate the separation between church and state.

State officials cited the group’s hiring requirements, which mandated that future employees give a “salvation statement” and believe that God created the world. AiG sued the state, accusing it of discriminating against the group based on its religious views.

Still, construction is reportedly underway on the 510-foot-long ark even without the tax incentives with the help of a number of Amish workers, who are working on the ark’s wooden structure. AiG says any state incentives will go to future expansions of the park. It plans to open Ark Encounter in the summer of 2016.

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