Kim Davis: clerk could be back in court soon

Kim Davis: clerk could be back in court soon

A U.S. clerk who has already spent five days in jail because she refused to issue marriage licenses after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide could be back in court soon for altering documents issued to same-sex couples.

On Monday, lawyers for two gay couples and two straight couples questioned the validity of the new marriage licenses and asked a federal judge to order Kim Davis’ office to reissue them. If she refuses, the lawyers asked the judge to put the office in receivership and have someone else do it.

It was not immediately clear if Davis’ office had issued any marriage licenses to straight couples since she introduced the new documents and whether they would also be similarly altered.

Davis is prepared to return to jail over her beliefs, according to an interview that aired Tuesday morning on “Good Morning America” – the first she’s given since her refusal to issue licenses gained national attention.

“I have never once spouted a word of hate. I have not been hateful,” she said. She also said the licenses going out of her office now, issued by a deputy clerk, don’t have her authorization and are “not valid in God’s eyes.”

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Davis stopped issuing all marriage licenses in June. Two gay couples and two straight couples sued her. A federal judge ordered Davis to issue the licenses, and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that order.

But Davis refused, citing “God’s authority.” That’s when U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning threw her in jail, prompting a fierce debate in the public square about religious liberty versus the civil rights afforded to all U.S. citizens.

Davis’ office issued marriage licenses while she was in jail, but the licenses did not include her name. Bunning ruled those licenses were valid and released Davis on the condition that she not interfere with her employees.

But when Davis returned to work last week, she confiscated the marriage licenses and replaced them. The new licenses say they were issued not under the authority of the county clerk, but “pursuant to federal court order.”

On Monday, lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union wrote that the validity of the altered licenses is “questionable at best,” and the new licenses bring “humiliation and stigma” to the gay couples who receive them. They asked Judge Bunning to order Davis’ office to reissue the licenses. If Davis interferes, the lawyers say Bunning should place her office in a receivership for the purposes of issuing marriage licenses.

Mat Staver, Davis’ attorney and founder of the Liberty Counsel law firm, did not directly respond to the ACLU’s request for Bunning to put the office in a receivership. Staver said he would formally respond to the ACLU’s motion Tuesday. But he noted that Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear said last week that the altered marriage licenses would be recognized by the state.