Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Kim Davis' Case Continues to Defy Finality

The controversy surrounding Rowan County, Kentucky, Clerk Kim Davis' refusal to issue marriage license to same-sex couples is not over.  As previously reported, after being released from custody on contempt charges, Davis allowed others in her office to issue licenses, but only with revised wording. On Nov. 13, outgoing Governor Steven Beshear filed a response (full text) with the federal district court that had held Davis in contempt stating that:
those altered licenses are not fully consistent with Kentucky statute, but such deviations do not render the marriages ineffective.  Thus, the Third-Party Defendants have and will continue  to  recognize  as  valid  those  marriages  solemnized  pursuant  to  the  altered licenses for purposes of the governmental rights, benefits, and responsibilities conveyed by the Executive Branch agencies over which Governor Beshear exercises supervisory control.
This led the ACLU to file a motion (full text) on Nov. 20 urging to court to require licenses to be issued in their original unaltered form, stating:
As Governor Beshear has now recognized, Davis’ actions have created considerable uncertainty regarding the legality of the altered marriage licenses.  They impose significant and ongoing harm on Rowan County couples who are legally eligible to marry but now face doubt and fear that a marriage solemnized pursuant to an altered marriage license could be held invalid at some unknown time in the future. And Davis’ actions effectively brand the altered licenses with a stamp of animus against gay people. This Court can and should eliminate the uncertainty and harm by enforcing its prior orders....
Meanwhile, accordidng to the Nov. 6 International Business Times, Republican Kentucky Gov.-elect Matt Bevin says that when he is sworn in on Dec. 8, he will issue an executive order removing county clerks' names from state marriage licenses, hoping that this will resolve the problem.