Same-Sex Couple Who Were Refused License Wins Federal Court Decision
It was two years ago, just two weeks after the Supreme Court ruled same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, when David Ermold and David Moore tried to obtain a marriage license. July 7, 2015. They were refused by Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who said she was acting "under God's authority."
The couple's viral video kicked off a nationwide discussion pitting religious right activists against those who support the constitutional guarantee of equal protection and the freedom to marry.
David Ermold and David Moore, known as "the Davids," later that year obtained a marriage license, elsewhere, and were finally wed.
On Friday they won another victory. They will not be forced to pay legal fees of $225,000, caused when Davis repeatedly refused to issue them a marriage license. The Rowan County clerk had claimed doing so would violate her deeply held religious beliefs.
Federal judge orders marriage plaintiffs who sued County Clerk Kim Davis to get about $225,000 in fees & costs for 2015 license battle. ^JCâ€” Bluegrass Politics (@BGPolitics) July 21, 2017
U.S. District Judge David Bunning jailed Davis for six days but she refused to relent, and was freed in a theatrical event during which then-presidential candidate Mike Huckabee swooped in.
While Ermold and Moore will not have to fork over hundreds of thousands of dollars, neither will Kim Davis, who is still the Rowan County clerk.
According to Kentucky.com, the State of Kentucky will pay the legal fees for Davis' personal decision to not execute the functions of her job.
Guess who pays the $250,000 for Rowan Co Clerk Kim Davis? Not her, not Rowan Co. The state of Ky, federal judge says. Story coming. ^JCâ€” Bluegrass Politics (@BGPolitics) July 21, 2017
Judge Bunning "rejected holding Davis personally responsible for the debt because, he said, the couples prevailed against her in her 'official capacity' as a public official," the paper adds.
"Davis represented the Commonwealth of Kentucky when she refused to issue marriage licenses to legally eligible couples. The buck stops there," Bunning wrote Friday morning.
"The plaintiffs prevailed by every measure of victory," Bunning wrote. "Plaintiffs obtained marriage licenses that could not be revoked. And two of the plaintiff-couples married on those licenses. That is enduring relief. There is nothing more the court could do."
Davis' attorneys at Liberty Counsel, an anti-gay hate group, will appeal Judge Bunning's decision, even though their client is not responsible for the fees.
"It is unfortunate that Kentucky taxpayers will likely bear the financial burden of the unlawful actions and litigation strategies of an elected official, but those same voters are free to take that information into account at the ballot box," William Sharp, legal director for the ACLU of Kentucky, told Kentucky.com.
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