Friday, September 04, 2015

With Ky. clerk in jail, gay couples receive marriage licenses

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PLAYLIST | Ky. clerk defies Supreme Court on gay marriage

With Ky. clerk in jail, gay couples receive marriage licensesMike Wynn and Chris Kenning, The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal1 hour ago

MOREHEAD, Ky. — Same-sex couples began receiving marriage licenses Friday in Rowan County, Ky., a day after the county clerk was sent to jail for refusing to issue the licenses.

At least three couples received licenses before the close of business.

James Crisp, The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal

April Miller, right, and Karen Roberts exit the Rowan County (Ky.) Clerk's Office after obtaining their marriage license at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., on Friday, Sept. 4, 2015.

William Smith and James Yates were the first same-sex couple to obtain a license Friday morning from Deputy Clerk Brian Mason.

Yates and Smith had an emotional embrace at the counter as soon as the clerk handed them a license. They shared the same a few moments later with Yates' parents outside, where supporters chanted "love has won."

The couple said they were elated and overwhelmed to obtain their license, a day after Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses in wake of the Supreme Court order allowing gay marriage.


Ky. clerk's office will issue marriage licenses Friday - without the clerk

Yates said no one wanted Davis in jail. They just wanted her to provide the paperwork, and the couple didn't expect to be first in line Friday.

"This means, at least for this area, that civil rights are civil rights," he said. "We're very happy."“It is our position and the clerk of Rowan County that they are void.”
Mathew Staver, Liberty Counsel, on the Rowan County same-sex marriage licenses issued Friday

But one of Davis' lawyers said the new document was not worth the paper it was printed on because it was issued without Davis' consent.

"It is our position and the clerk of Rowan County that they are void," said Mathew Staver of the Orlando-based Liberty Counsel law firm. He said Davis' legal team will appeal her contempt of court ruling by the end of the day though she is likely to stay in jail for at least a week and is prepared to stay for months, or as long as she needs to for accommodation of her beliefs.

But as Davis continued her stay in isolation in Carter County jail, studying her Bible and obeying her conscience, Tim and Michael Long got their marriage license.

The Longs said they had had a commitment ceremony in 2008, and Michael Long had his name changed. But they wanted to be legally married in their home county, and after being denied once, they held up their license to reporters before heading back to work.

"We feel like we are accepted, like everyone else," Tim Long said, calling the day "very significant" for equal rights.


Republicans rally around Kim Davis (for the most part)

Smith said the process has been frustrating and upsetting.

Yates and Smith had to seek a license six times before their success. Yates said he and his fiancé already have two dates in mind for a wedding at a family home.

Last year Rowan County issued a little more than 200 marriage licenses, roughly two every three workdays.

Tim Long, 51, said he is torn over Davis and feels sorry that she is in jail, "but she done it to herself." He said it's sad that couples have to battle so much spite to get basic rights.

April Miller and Karen Roberts understood the enormity of the moment.

Timothy D. Easley, AP

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis listens to a customer Sept. 1, 2015, after her office refusal to issue marriage licenses in Morehead, Ky.

"We know this is bigger than just us," said Miller, who became the third same-sex couple to receive a marriage license here Friday. "We have a handful of clerks around the country who are not listening to what the law is."

Clerks in Casey and Whitley counties in central and southeastern Kentucky also have said they would not issue marriage licenses to gay couples but were not sued. When contacted Friday, deputies in Whitley County, which has about 35,000 residents, said they were issuing licenses to heterosexual couples but didn't have the proper forms for same-sex marriages; Casey County staffers didn't answer the phone.

Miller, a 54-year-old Morehead State University education professor and Roberts, a teacher, said they had been together 11 years before joining the lawsuit to force Davis to issue the license.

Signing the forms as cameras clicked, Miller said, "Oh my gosh, I'm so excited."

She said they plan to marry in a small ceremony.

They said they did not view themselves as heroes and were not feeling triumphant over Davis, who was jailed Thursday.

"We should have been able to get this the first day we walked in," Miller said. "This is about the rights of everyone."

Earlier Friday, Davis' husband, Joe, said his wife was in good spirits and called U.S. District Judge David Bunning a bully for jailing his wife.

"She won't resign I promise you," he said. "Until something gives, she'll be there."

Media outlets from across the country had descended on the courthouse early, surrounding Yates and Smith with cameras and questions. The couple was clearly feeling smothered as they tried to hurry out of the spotlight.

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Dozens of demonstrators were gathered on each side of the courthouse, waving signs and shouting at each other.

Protesters for lesbian-gay-bisexual and transgender rights sangAmazing Grace.

"It's a good day," said Jerry Calvert of Morehead, Ky. "It's about everybody being OK, living together."


Timeline of a Kentucky clerk's gay-marriage defiance

Preachers on the other side shouted sermons about immorality and Sodom and Gomorrah. Davis supporters waved signs that the Supreme Court decision that allows gay marriage illegal.

Marsha Moors-Charles, pastor of Bluegrass United Church of Christ, stood with gay-rights supporters and said she was willing to perform marriages if any couples asked. Across the walkway, other ministers shouted damnation.

While some are slow to accept new civil-rights laws the "onslaught of bigotry and prejudice" that has followed the Supreme Court ruling has been heartbreaking, she said.

Penny Stinnett, who was protesting the licenses outside, accused the deputy clerks of backing down and selling out their salvation.

"I think it's sad," she said. "I think everybody in that office should have stood behind Kim Davis."

Davis' supporters said a rally is planned at 11 a.m. Saturday outside Carter County jail. The Liberty Counsel law firm also said a second rally is planned for 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Mike Wynn, The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal

William Smith and James Yates received a marriage license Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, from Rowan County (Ky.) Deputy Clerk Brian Mason.

Joe Davis and Kent Ostrander, executive director of the Family Foundation of Kentucky, lay the blame of Davis' incarceration on Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, who has declined to call a special session to rewrite state law on marriage licenses.

Ostrander and Staver say changing state law to remove county clerks from the process of issuing marriage licenses would cost no money and would accommodate Kim Davis' objections to issuing a document that contains her name and uses her authority as an elected official. Beshear has said convening a special session is too expensive; legislators meet next in January.

"You ain't no governor because you have no backbone," said Joe Davis, who plans to go to the state capital next week to confront Beshear.

But Davis also said he wouldn't stand in the way of any licenses Friday.

"We don't want no violence at all," he said. "And we don't hate these people. That's the farthest thing from our hearts."

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