Marriage license denied

William Smith Jr., right, and his partner, James Yates, were denied a marriage license Thursday for the third time at the Rowan County clerk’s office. At left is Deputy County Clerk Brian Mason.

    While the U. S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals denied Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis' stay on Wednesday, saying she must issue licenses, she has yet to release marriage licenses in Rowan County.

    The six-page order came after a class action civil suit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky sought an injunction for four couples when Davis stopped issuing licenses after the Supreme Court deemed same-sex marriage legal.

    "In light of the binding holding of Obergefell, it cannot be defensibly argued that the holder of the Rowan County Clerk’s office, apart from who personally occupies that office, may decline to act in conformity with the United States Constitution as interpreted by a dispositive holding of the United States Supreme Court. There is thus little or no likelihood that the Clerk in her official capacity will prevail on appeal,” stated the order from the appellate court.

    Judge David Bunning ruled that the injunction stand and sought the advice of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals with a temporary stay that set an Aug. 31 expiration date for the case.

     “On August 17, 2015 this Court entered an Order denying Defendant Kim Davis' motion to stay the Court's August 12, 2015, Order granting Plaintiffs a preliminary injunction enjoining Defendant Davis from enforcing her 'no marriage licenses' policy against Plaintiffs,” said Bunning in his most recent order. “However, in deference to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Court temporarily stayed its August 12, 2015, Order to give the appellate court an opportunity to review, on an expedited basis, the August 17, 2015 Order denying the motion to stay.”

    Davis has been advised by her attorneys with Liberty Counsel to not comment on the ruling but Mat Staver, founder and chairman, has said it is their understanding that the stay is in effect until Aug. 31.

    “We believe this case is far from over and we will petition the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday for an emergency stay while we pursue the appeal process,” said Staver. “The Supreme Court feared this would happen and have a negative impact. Kim Davis is the tip of the spear for courts and for many people because this is about the respect of a person’s right of conscience.”

    Counsel on the other side of the case had a different reaction.

    “This is now the third opinion that should help educate Ms. Davis on a core principle of American democracy: politicians cannot govern according to their own private religious beliefs. We anticipate Ms. Davis will ask, and get the same answer, from the Supreme Court regarding a stay,” said Dan Canon, representing the ACLU of Kentucky.

    At least one couple was turned away in the midst of a media storm on Thursday.

    Will Smith Jr. and James Yates have added their name to a list of six couples suing Davis. The couple has tried and failed to get a marriage license three times in their hometown.

    Smith and Yates have retained attorneys Rene Heinrich of the Heinrich Firm in Newport and Kash Stilz of Roush and Stilz in Covington. The suit has been filed in the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

    David Moore and David Emrold have also retained legal counsel. They are the same-sex couple that released a video of their denial which went viral online.

    The four couples in the ACLU suit are two same-gender and two opposite-gender couples, Karen Roberts and April Miller, Shantel Burke and Stephen Napier, Barry Spartman and Aaron Skaggs, and Jody Fernandez and Kevin Holloway.

    Davis could be held in contempt of court and face fines or arrest but is standing firm, based one her “deeply-held religious belief.”

    Shayla Menville can be reached at or by telephone at 784-4116.