Metro Weekly

Kim Davis’ appeal dismissed by 6th Circuit, but contempt ruling kept in place

ACLU hopes Rowan County Clerk's contempt order serves as lesson to other anti-LGBT government officials

Kim Davis, Credit: Fox News
Kim Davis, Credit: Fox News

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has granted Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis’ request to dismiss her appeal of a federal judge’s ruling against her. Davis had previously stopped issuing marriage licenses to any couple, straight or gay, because of her opposition to same-sex marriage.

In hearing a lawsuit brought against Davis, U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered the Rowan County Clerk to issue licenses to same-sex couples. Bunning ruled that if Davis would not issue them, she had to allow her deputies to do so. When Davis refused, she was sentenced to five days in jail for contempt of court.

After emerging from jail, Davis became a minor celebrity among the religious right for her opposition to same-sex marriage. Her jailing is thought to have influenced last year’s gubernatorial election in Kentucky, where same-sex marriage remains unpopular.

After taking office, Gov. Matt Bevin altered Kentucky law to remove county clerks’ names from marriage licenses. Davis’ lawyers with Liberty Counsel asked the 6th Circuit to dismiss their appeal because of that change. The law goes into effect starting Friday, July 15.

The 6th Circuit said that Kentucky’s new law essentially rendered Davis’ objections to having her name on same-sex marriage licenses moot, and dismissed the appeal. But the court refused to vacate the contempt of court ruling that sent her to jail.

Ria Tabacco Mar, a staff attorney with the ACLU, said the new law allows same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses without fear of discrimination.

“In light of changes to the law, the court correctly dismissed Kim Davis’ appeals,” Mar said. “Notably, however, the court kept in place a lower court order that found Ms. Davis in contempt for defying the law and denying our clients the marriage licenses they were legally promised.

“We’re pleased that the appeals court kept the decision on the books: It will serve as a reminder to other government officials that placing their personal views ahead of the Constitution and the rule of law is not acceptable.”

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