Constitutional Law

Judge frees county clerk from jail, orders her not to interfere with same-sex marriage licensing

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Noting that Rowan County, Kentucky, court employees have been issuing same-sex marriage licenses while the county clerk served time for contempt for refusing to do so, a federal judge on Tuesday released clerk Kim Davis from jail.

In doing so, U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered Davis not to interfere with the issuance of marriage licenses by employees of her office to legally eligible couples.

The Associated Press, CNN and the New York Times (reg. req.) have stories.

Citing her personal religious objection to same-sex marriage and constitutional right to religious freedom, the 49-year-old Democrat has contended that she cannot in good conscience issue such licenses. Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in June recognizing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, she had stopped issuing licenses to both same- and opposite-sex couples, in an effort to stay on the right side of the law.

However, Bunning ruled she had a legal duty to do her job. After he, a federal appeals court and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to stay the order requiring Davis to issue marriage licenses and she continued to refuse to do so she was held in contempt and jailed last week.

After the announcement that Davis would be released, attorney Mat Staver said in a statement that his client “can never recover the past six days of her life spent in an isolated jail cell, where she was incarcerated like a common criminal because of her conscience and religious conviction,” WDRB reported. Staver is founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel.

“The goal was to get Ms. Davis to issue licenses, and to stop imposing her religious beliefs on the citizens she was elected to serve,” wrote attorney Dan Canon of Clay Daniel Walton & Adams in Louisville, Kentucky—a law firm working with the American Civil Liberties Union on the case—in an email to the Washington Post (reg. req.). “That goal has been achieved, for now.”

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