– Bid for Qualified Immunity in Lawsuit Brought by Same-Sex Couples, Again
This is the second time Davis lost an effort to claim qualified immunity for her repeated, unlawful denials of marriage licenses.
“In the summer of 2015, Kim Davis was the County Clerk for Rowan County, Kentucky. One of her responsibilities was to issue marriage licenses. But same-sex marriage offended her religious beliefs, so when the Supreme Court recognized a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, Davis took matters into her own hands.”
Davis violated the “clearly established” rights of two couples – David Ermold and David Moore; and James Yates and Will Smith – to marry “when she declined to issue marriage licenses based on her belief that same-sex marriage was immoral,” Judge Richard Allen Griffin of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in the brief, five-page opinion.
The then-clerk’s method of enacting her anti-gay marriage agenda was by declining to issue marriage licenses to “everybody,” Judge Richard Allen Griffin (GW Bush) notes, an action that was taken after she “read and understood” a letter from then-governor Steve Beshear instructing all county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
“It was her decision to implement this policy in Rowan County, not anyone else’s, and she implemented the policy in direct response to the Obergefell decision.”
The Yates plaintiffs tried to obtain a marriage license from the Rowan County Clerk’s office five times but were denied each time. The Ermold plaintiffs tried three times and were equally unsuccessful. On the Ermold plaintiffs’ final attempt, Davis explained that she could not issue them a license “under God’s authority.” Eventually, both sets of plaintiffs were issued a marriage license by a Rowan County Deputy Clerk while Davis was in jail for contempt of court.
The ruling sets up a jury trial to determine what amount of damages the plaintiffs are entitled to obtain from the anti-gay marriage clerk.