Couples ask judge to hold Rowan Co. clerk in contempt after she denies licenses

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis came out of her office briefly to speak to a couple that wanted a marriage license.
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ROWAN COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT/AP) - Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis defied court orders by refusing to issue marriage licenses, and now steps have been taken to hold her in contempt of court.

A motion was filed Tuesday, asking U.S. District Judge David Bunning to hold Davis in contempt. Davis has until the end of the day Wednesday to respond to that motion. Bunning scheduled a contempt hearing for 11 a.m. Thursday in Ashland. At that time, the gay couples will have to present evidence, which could include testimony from Davis herself. Bunning would then decide on punishment. That could include fines, jail time or both, but the motion asks the judge to impose only financial penalties.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to intervene in the case, leaving Davis no legal grounds to refuse to grant licenses to gay couples.

Tuesday's court maneuver comes after Davis refused to process marriage licenses.

Davis showed up for work just after 7 a.m. Tuesday and, about an hour later, she denied a couple that sought a marriage license.

A deputy clerk told April Miller and Karen Roberts, who walked into the office trailed by dozens of television cameras, that no licenses would be issued and refused to make Davis available.

A second couple, David Moore and David Ermold, rejected a fourth time, demanded to speak with Davis.

Ermold shouted: "Tell her to come out and face the people she's discriminating against."

Davis was initially in her office, with the door and the blinds closed. However, eventually came out.

Ermold: "I would never do what you are doing to us to someone."

"You believe passionately about something as do I," Davis responded.

Ermold: "We aren't leaving without a license...then you're going to have a long day."

When confronted with the fact her temporary stay was up, she responded by saying while the stay is up she however is not done with her appeals

"We aren't giving licenses today pending appeals process," Davis said. She added that her office is doing so "under God's authority."

Ermold: "Did God tell you to do this?"

Davis: "I have told you all to are interrupting my business."

Ermold: "You can call the police if you want us to leave...I pay your salary, I pay you to discriminate against me right now."

"I just want her out. Whatever that means. If that means they have to fine her, if that means they have to jail her. Whatever that they do, that's not what's important to me. Get her out of office and get someone that's going to do the job. Not just do it, but to do it happily," Ermold told WKYT Tuesday evening.

Later Tuesday, Davis issued a statement through Liberty Counsel, saying she won't resign or violate her religious beliefs about same-sex couples.

The statement says that despite calls for her resignation, Davis has done her job well. But she says that issuing marriage licenses to gay couples would "violate my conscience."

Davis calls it "a Heaven or Hell decision."

Davis also it's is not "a gay or lesbian issue," but rather a "matter of religious liberty, which is protected under the First Amendment."

Rowan County Judge Executive Doc Blevins said Tuesday evening he expects something serious to happen at Thursday's hearing.

"It's all in the judge's hands. She's not been following what the judge told her to do. She's exhausted all her opportunities to get a stay or to prolong this. I think the judge will probably come down pretty hard on her," Blevins said.

The Liberty Counsel on Tuesday issued the following statement by Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis:

I have worked in the Rowan County Clerk's office for 27 years as a Deputy Clerk and was honored to be elected as the Clerk in November 2014, and took office in January 2015.

I love my job and the people of Rowan County. I have never lived any place other than Rowan County. Some people have said I should resign, but I have done my job well.

This year we are on track to generate a surplus for the county of $1.5 million.

In addition to my desire to serve the people of Rowan County, I owe my life to Jesus Christ who loves me and gave His life for me. Following the death of my godly mother-in-law over four years ago, I went to church to fulfill her dying wish.

There I heard a message of grace and forgiveness and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. I am not perfect. No one is. But I am forgiven and I love my Lord and must be obedient to Him and to the Word of God.

I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage.

To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God's definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision. For me it is a decision of obedience.

I have no animosity toward anyone and harbor no ill will. To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God's Word.

It is a matter of religious liberty, which is protected under the First Amendment, the Kentucky Constitution, and in the Kentucky Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Our history is filled with accommodations for people's religious freedom and conscience.

I want to continue to perform my duties, but I also am requesting what our Founders envisioned - that conscience and religious freedom would be protected.

That is all I am asking. I never sought to be in this position, and I would much rather not have been placed in this position. I have received death threats from people who do not know me. I harbor nothing against them.

I was elected by the people to serve as the County Clerk. I intend to continue to serve the people of Rowan County, but I cannot violate my conscience.


WKYT's Hillary Thornton is at the Rowan County Courthouse covering the fallout.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis quickly became a trending topic on Twitter

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