Robert Couse-Baker/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

With Kim Davis behind bars, Kentucky county resumes issuing marriage licenses

Marriage has returned to Rowan County, Kentucky.


Andrew Couts


Published Sep 4, 2015   Updated May 28, 2021, 1:02 am CDT

Marriage has returned to Rowan County, Kentucky.

With their boss behind bars, deputy clerks for Rowan County resumed issuing marriage licenses Friday morning, including one for a gay couple who had been denied by the county clerk on religious grounds. 

James Yates and William Smith paid the $35.50 fee in cash for their marriage license, reports Reuters, ending a standoff between the couple and Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who defied a federal order requiring her to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Davis, an Apostolic Christian who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples on the grounds that she was acting “under God’s authority,” remains behind bars after U.S. District Judge David Bunning found her in contempt of court on Thursday. Authorities will release Davis if she agrees to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Davis had previously forbid her deputy clerks from issuing marriage licenses.

“The court cannot condone the willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order,” Judge Bunning said during Davis’s court appearance on Thursday in Ashland, Kentucky, according to the New York Times. “If you give people the opportunity to choose which orders they follow, that’s what potentially causes problems.”

Davis’s civil disobedience has become a touchstone of discontent in a country still struggling with a U.S. Supreme Court decision that found state-level bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Republican presidential candidates Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are among those supporting Davis and her objection to same-sex marriage. 

“I stand with Kim Davis. Unequivocally,” Cruz said in a statement. “I stand with every American that the Obama Administration is trying to force to choose between honoring his or her faith or complying with a lawless court opinion.”

Holding a sign that read “Welcome to Sodom and Gomorrah” outside the Rowan County Courthouse, Davis’s husband, Joe, stood defiantly in support of his wife. 

“We don’t hate these people,” Joe Davis told reporters on Friday morning, according to Reuters. “That’s the furthest thing from our hearts. We don’t hate nobody. We just want to have the same rights that they have.”

Photo via Robert Couse-Baker/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Sep 4, 2015, 10:46 am CDT