Less than a week after being released from jail for refusing to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis may be back in legal hot water.
U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning allowed the Kentucky official to get out of jail and to return to her elected position on the condition she not interfere with other officials in her office issuing the licenses. However, as WKMS reports, attorney Richard Huges, who represents Davis’s deputy Brian Mason, told Judge Bunning on Friday that Davis removed her name from marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples by Mason and replaced it with “Pursuant to Federal Court Order #15-CV-44 DLB.”
Mason volunteered the job of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, since he is the only employee of the county clerk’s office who has no moral objections to doing so.
As reported by the Associated Press, Hughes told Bunning in a report given to the court on Friday that altering the form was an “attempt to circumvent the court’s orders and may have raised to the level of interference against the court’s order… Mr. Mason is concerned because he is in a difficult position that he continues to issue the licenses per the court’s order… which had some remote questionable validity, but now with these changes may in fact have some substantial questions about validity.”
The distinction between a marriage license bearing Davis’s name and one exclusively mentioning the court order may be more than strictly academic. If the altered forms don’t comport to Kentucky state law, they may not be legally valid.
Earlier this month, Davis was thrown in jail for five nights after she publicly refused to issue marriage licenses. Citing her religious opposition to same-sex marriage, Davis asserted she was unable to carry out her newfound responsibilities as county clerk following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states.
She was allowed to go back to all of her other responsibilities as county clerk, but the the issuance of marriage licenses would, going forward, be handled by a deputy. Davis tried to appeal the court’s decision on requiring her office to issue the licenses to same-sex couples, but the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected her request on procedural grounds earlier this week.
Davis’s protest instantly made her a lighting rod for controversy. Republican presidential hopefuls like Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee were both so eager to associate themselves with her cause they ended up tussling behind the scenes at a rally supporting her.
There’s even been some online chatter about Davis being a popular costume theme for Halloween this year.
H/T AP | Illustration by Max Fleishman