Kentucky clerk, Kim Davis, just lost another bid in federal appeals court in her fight to exempt her office from issuing marriage license to same-sex couples. The federal appeals court that handled this case was the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, and this comes one day after Davis returned to work following the five days she spent in jail for defying the federal court order to comply.
This ongoing legal case started as four couples, two gay and two straight, sued Davis when she stopped issuing marriage licenses all together in an effort not to discriminate against the gays after the Supreme Court ruled in June that gay marriage was legal across the Nation. Davis filed a counter lawsuit against Governor Steve Beshear, in which she alleged that he improperly instructed the clerks in Kentucky to comply by the decision from the Supreme Court. The appeals court rejected Davis about delaying the same-sex marriage licenses, but the appeals court did not toss out the appeal entirely, although Beshear wanted the whole suit tossed. Davis had said her Christian faith and also religious freedom from the Constitution allowed her to defy the Supreme Court order, saying that she could not under any means violate her beliefs when it came to putting her name on those marriage licenses. Davis then defied several court orders over the past two months which ordered her to issue the licenses, and when she still did not, she wound up in jail on contempt charges. These charges were because she had violated the court order, but the entire situation has put Davis into the spotlight of hero status for the religious people, and even has gained support of Republican candidates like Mike Huckabee who stood with her when she was released from jail.
While Davis was sitting in her jail cell, a deputy of hers was issuing marriage licenses, and Davis was not happy about this. Davis returned to jail Monday however stating she was not going to block the deputies, in which are under her, from issuing the marriage licenses. Since Davis is the head of the office, she told her office to take her name off of the licenses and instead put “pursuant to federal court order” and then she said there were “grave concerns” over whether or not those licenses without her name would even be considered valid. There is some confusion actually on whether or not those licenses without her name are valid, even though the attorney general and governor did say they were believed to be valid. Lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union, also known as the ACLU, who were suing Davis for the four couples that started this entire situation also had concerns on whether or not those marriage licenses were valid or not. The American Civil Liberties Union said that they were considering legal action, but would wait until all of the appeals issued are resolved before moving on to that part of the situation.
Davis also had another request regarding the marriage license issue, with her attorneys at the Liberal Counsel arguing the order to issue marriage licenses should only apply to the four couples who sued her and not any other same-sex couples who wish to come in and get the marriage license. The ACLU is asking that this latest effort by Davis be thrown out as well, stating it is just her trying to manipulate the court order because she wants to avoid the obligations of her office. A panel of appeals court judges dismissed Davis’ primary argument three weeks ago, which was that her religious faith should exclude her from having to issue the gay marriage licenses. Right after Davis just tried to say that the order should be just for the four original people from the lawsuit and not all gay couples, James Esseks, the ACLU Director for the LGBT Project said this is the clerk asking the same question repeatedly and getting the same answer from the court system. Davis is just putting in more appeals and lawsuits with different wording but basically saying the same thing, and the courts continue to say she is wrong, has no legal basis, and also has to issue the gay marriage licenses. The ACLU said that Davis putting her name on those marriage licenses does not mean she has to approve of the marriage, as it is just doing her job as clerk and she should stop making this into a personal issue, which it is not because this is her job to issue marriage licenses to people in Kentucky. The attorneys for Davis still hold onto hope however, saying that the entire case was not tossed like Beshear wanted, and that letting the case continue into the court system is a good sign for Davis, although they said it is a “high hurdle” for their client.
For now, it is not known whether or not Davis will continue to file more appeals on top of the rejections and denials that the courts are continuing to give her. Since Davis is an elected official, she cannot be fired from her job, and technically this court case could continue for years if she keeps filing more appeals in the court system, even though the highest court also rejected her requests. Davis is making $80,000 as an elected official, with the only way she could be removed being a decision from lawmakers, but a lot of them are siding with her as well, so it’s nearly impossible she could ever be removed from her position unless she resigned on her own, which she has continued to vow she will not do. Considering the amount of money she makes as a government worker, the fact she is getting a lot of attention, and even the attention from Republican candidates, it seems that she has no real reason to stop fighting or resign, as she is getting very folk-hero like with her continued stance and defiance on the issue.