The Kentucky county clerk who landed in jail after she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples has filed an emergency request for an exemption from the requirement to authorize gay marriages.
Kim Davis, a 49-year-old legal clerk from Rowan County, drew a national spotlight when she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because she said it violated her religious beliefs.
After the Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage in late June, Kentucky Gov. Steven Beshear (D) mandated county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Davis refused to comply and was sued by couples whose marriages she had refused to authorize. She was incarcerated Thursday for contempt of court.
“As a prisoner of her conscience, Davis continues to request a simple accommodation and exemption from the Governor,” Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the Christian legal organization Liberty Counsel, said in a statement on Monday.
In the new court documents, filed in the Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, Davis’s attorneys argue that the mandate is a violation of her right to free speech. They add that Davis would find it acceptable if marriage licenses are issued to same-sex couples without her name.
“Davis faces significant, irrevocable, and irreversible harm if she is forced to authorize and approve even one same-sex marriage license with her name on it, against her religious conscience,” her attorneys wrote.
They have also appealed the contempt order that sent her to jail.
In a statement, Davis has explained her actions:
“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,” she said.
Last week, after federal Judge David L. Bunning jailed Davis for contempt of court, deputy clerks began to issue marriage licenses.
“It appears that the citizens of Rowan County will now have access to all the services from the clerk’s office to which they are entitled,” Beshear said in a statement. “Again, the legislature has placed the authority to issue marriage licenses squarely on county clerks by statute, and I have no legal authority to relieve them of their statutory duty by executive order.”