Family Law

Kim Davis says she will not issue marriage licenses, but that deputies may issue 'unauthorized' ones

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Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis is back at work, and though she has vowed not to issue any marriage licenses, she says she will not stop her deputies from doing so.

National Public Radio reported on Monday that Davis made her pronouncement after returning to work for the first time since being released from prison last week, where she’d been held for contempt of court.

Flanked by state troopers, as well as her son, Nathan, a deputy clerk that also refused to issue marriage licenses, Davis announced that any marriage license issued by her office would not bear her name or signature and that they would be issued “pursuant to a federal court order.”

Davis stated that she had “great doubts” that the licenses would be valid. “Any unauthorized license that they issue will not have my name, my title or my authority on it,” Davis said. “Instead, the license will state that they are issued pursuant to a federal court order.”

Davis, who was elected clerk of Rowan County, has refused to issue any marriage licenses due to her disapproval of the Supreme Court’s June ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized same-sex marriages throughout the United States.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning had ordered Davis to do her job and issue the licenses; however Davis, citing her religious beliefs, refused and petitioned both the U.S. Circuit Court for the Sixth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court for relief. After both courts declined to stay Bunning’s order, Davis continued to defy it, resulting in her imprisonment for contempt.

According to WKYT, the Rowan County office issued 10 marriage licenses while Davis was incarcerated–seven to same-sex couples. Brian Mason, a deputy clerk in Davis’s office, said that he would continue issuing licenses to same-sex couples even if Davis instructed him not to.

Meanwhile, several authorities have already contradicted her claims that the licenses would be illegitimate. According to the Associated Press, Governor Steve Beshear said Monday that the Rowan County licenses were valid and would be recognized in the state of Kentucky. The AP also reported that Attorney General Jack Conway (who is the Democratic nominee for governor and previously refused to defend the state’s same-sex marriage ban in court) has also weighed in, saying that he believed the licenses were valid.

Davis’s attorney, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, is already on record saying that he believed the licenses “are not worth the paper they’re written on.” On Friday, he told CNN that the state should simply change the law so that marriage licenses will be issued by the state instead of by individual clerks. According to CNN, the Kentucky state senate is at work on legislation that would address the problem, but wouldn’t be able to vote on it until the legislative session starts in January.

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