Showing posts with label Anti Gay Clerk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anti Gay Clerk. Show all posts

August 26, 2019

Kentucky Clerk Who Refused To Obey Supreme Court on Gay Marriage, Can Be Sued

 The Kentucky county clerk who in 2015 gained widespread attention for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples may be sued for damages by two of those couples, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday.  In a 3-0 decision, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati said Kim Davis can be sued in her individual capacity, though sovereign immunity shielded her from being sued in her former role as Rowan County Clerk. 
Davis claimed that Obergefell v Hodges, the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision recognizing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, did not apply to her because she stopped issuing licenses to everyone regardless of sexual orientation, and the plaintiffs could have obtained licenses elsewhere. 
But the appeals court called the Supreme Court decision “as sweeping as it was unequivocal,” and said the respective couples - David Ermold and David Moore, and Will Smith and James Yates - could try to show that Davis acted unreasonably. 
“In short, plaintiffs pleaded a violation of their right to marry: a right the Supreme Court clearly established in Obergefell,” Circuit Judge Richard Griffin wrote. “The district court therefore correctly denied qualified immunity to Davis.” 
The decision upheld rulings by U.S. District Judge David Bunning in Covington, Kentucky and returned the lawsuits to him. Both couples are now married. Davis lost her reelection bid as Rowan County clerk last year. She is now retired, according to Mat Staver, the founder of Liberty Counsel, which represented her. 
“At the end of the day, she will ultimately prevail. She had no hostility to anyone, given that she stopped issuing all marriage licenses,” Staver said in an interview. 
“The broader issue is what accommodation a court should provide someone based on their religious beliefs,” he added. “It’s a matter of time before such a case goes squarely before the Supreme Court.” 
Michael Gartland, a lawyer for Ermold and Moore, said his clients may ask the full 6th Circuit to review the sovereign immunity issue. “No matter what happens, we’re going to trial against Ms. Davis in her individual capacity,” he said. 
Kash Stilz, a lawyer for Smith and Yates, said his clients were pleased their lawsuit can continue. 
The appeals court also upheld a separate attorney fee award to other couples who were denied marriage licenses by Davis.  Both decisions came two hours after another federal appeals court said two Minnesota videographers, Angel and Carl Larsen, could sue the state for requiring them to film same-sex weddings though it violated their Christian beliefs.  
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Marguerita Choy

January 31, 2019

Kentucky Anti Gay Homophobic County Clerk Kim Davis Getting Bill to Tax payers for $222,0000

By The Associated Press

As a candidate for governor in 2015, Matt Bevin said he “absolutely supported” a Kentucky county clerk who stopped issuing marriage licenses because of her opposition to gay marriage.

But four years later, after a court ordered Kentucky taxpayers to pay more than $222,000 in legal fees for the gay and straight couples who sued, outside lawyers for now Gov. Bevin say former Rowan County clerk Kim Davis broke the law and taxpayers “should not have to collectively bear the financial responsibility for Davis’ intransigence.”

“Only Davis refused to comply with the law as was her obligation and as required by the oath of office she took,” Bevin attorney Palmer G. Vance II wrote in a brief filed with the court. 

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Bevin has been a staunch supporter of Davis, who spent five days in jail for refusing a court order to issue marriage licenses following the historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling that effectively legalized gay marriage. Davis even switched parties, registering as a Republican because she said the Democratic Party abandoned her. But now, Davis and Bevin will oppose each other in federal court on Thursday as lawyers argue who should have to pay for the lawsuit that stemmed from Davis’ actions.

Bevin and Davis, who lost her re-election bid in November, have asked the court not to award legal fees. But if they do, they disagree on who should pay. Davis’ attorneys argue she acted on behalf of the state.

But in an interview with The Associated Press, Davis’ attorney Mat Staver said he does not attribute those arguments to Bevin, but to the attorneys who represent him. Those attorneys, Palmer G. Vance II, and William M. Lear Jr. are the same ones who represented former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear on the case before Bevin took office.

″(Bevin) led the charge on that religious liberty accommodation, which is what we asked for from the very beginning,” Staver said. 

“Governor Bevin does not believe that she has done so and continues to support Ms. Davis’s actions,” Pitt said. “Our outside counsel have only argued, given the court’s ruling, that if constitutional rights were violated, the taxpayers of Kentucky are not responsible to pay the ACLU’s attorney fees.”

Vance and Lear did not return a phone call seeking comment.

The case dates to the summer of 2015 when same-sex marriage became legal nationwide. At the time, the county clerk’s name appeared on all marriage licenses in Kentucky. Davis, a devout Apostolic Christian who says gay marriage is contrary to her religious beliefs, viewed this as her endorsement of same-sex marriage. She stopped issuing all marriage licenses.

Several gay and straight couples sued her with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union. A federal judge ordered her to issue the licenses, but Davis refused. The judge then found her in contempt of court and jailed her for five days. The case was resolved when the state legislature passed a law removing the names of county clerks from Kentucky marriage licenses. 

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In 2017, a federal judge ruled that Davis was acting as an agent for the state, making Kentucky taxpayers responsible for paying the legal fees of the gay and straight couples who filed suit. Bevin objected. His lawyers argue no one should have to pay the legal fees, because the gay and straight couples did not technically win the lawsuit since it was dismissed.

However, Bevin’s lawyers also argued if legal fees are awarded, either Rowan County or Davis herself should be responsible to pay them. Bevin’s lawyer Palmer Vance II, noted the purpose of requiring losers to pay for attorneys’ fees is to deter “conduct that violates civil rights.”

“That purpose is not indicated if the offending office_the Rowan County Clerk’s Office_suffers no liability,” Vance wrote. “Indeed, there is little to deter the Rowan County Clerk’s Office from developing policies that violate the Kentucky or United States Constitutions.”

Jeffrey C. Mando, an attorney for Rowan County, dismissed that argument. He said clerks are elected officials and not county employees. He also added that “all procedures relating to marriage licenses are governed solely by the state.” He said that’s why former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear ordered county clerks to issue a marriage license to same-sex couples and it’s why Bevin issued later issued an executive order removing clerks’ names from the licenses.

“The Commonwealth exercised a great deal of control over Davis, while the County enjoyed none,” Mando wrote.

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