Kim Davis Will Stop Interfering With Same-Sex Marriages

by | September 14, 2015

By John Cheves

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis said Monday she will allow her deputies to issue marriage licenses, but the "unauthorized" documents will say they are issued "pursuant to a federal court order" instead of including her name and title.

Speaking to reporters, Davis said she won't interfere as her deputy clerks continue to issue marriage licenses, in compliance with the order of U.S. District Judge David Bunning. But she has further altered the wording of the licenses so that they no longer bear her name or the title of "Rowan County Clerk," which she says wrongly suggests her approval.

"Any unauthorized licenses they issue will not have my name, my title or my authority on it. Instead, the licenses will say that they were issued pursuant to a federal court order," Davis said. The clerk said she did not "want to be in the spotlight" any longer.

"I am no hero," Davis said, tearing up. "I am just a person who has been transformed by the grace of God, who wants to work and be with my family. I want to serve my community."

In several cases pending before Bunning and the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, local couples sued Davis for refusing to issue marriage licenses following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision June 26 legalizing same-sex marriage. Davis, an Apostolic Christian, has said her religious objection to same-sex marriage trumps her public duty to issue marriage licenses.

The clerk said Monday that she has "grave doubts" about the validity of marriage licenses containing the altered wording. However, Kentucky family law experts say that two qualified adults who marry in good faith typically are considered legally wed regardless of the precise wording on paperwork filed to record their marriage at the courthouse.

Davis spent five days in the Carter County jail for contempt of court because she violated Bunning's Aug. 12 order to resume issuing marriage licenses. The judge released Davis from jail last Tuesday after her office began to issue licenses in her absence, with her name replaced by the plain title "Rowan County Clerk," accompanied by the name and initials of a deputy clerk.

As he released her, Bunning warned Davis to not interfere with her deputies issuing licenses, at risk of facing "appropriate sanctions."

On Monday, Brian Mason, the deputy clerk who issued marriage licenses in Davis' absence, told reporters he will continue. There are no hard feelings between Davis and her deputies, Mason said.

"I love my deputy clerks and I hate that they have been caught in the middle," Davis said. "If any of them feels that they must issue an unauthorized license to avoid being thrown in jail, I understand their tough choice and I will take no action against them.

(c)2015 Lexington Herald-Leader