Judges rule clerk who refused to marry gay couples can be sued

Judges rule clerk who refused to marry gay couples can be sued
Image: Kim Davis made headlines around the world when she decided to defy the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage

Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who gained noteriety in 2015 for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of the US Supreme Court, can be sued for damages, a federal appeals court unanimously ruled on Friday.

Two of the couples who were refused licenses by Davis – Will Smith and James Yates, and David Ermold and David Moore – can now proceed with lawsuits against her after the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Davis can be sued in her capacity as an individual.

The judges’ 3-0 ruling states that while Davis can now be individually sued, sovereign immunity shields her from being sued in her capacity as Rowan County Clerk.

Davis, a born-again Christian, had claimed that the 2015 US Supreme Court decision recognising a constitutional right to same-sex marriage did not apply to her because she stopped issuing all marriage licenses regardless of sexual orientation, and that the plaintiffs could have obtained licenses elsewhere.

However, the appeals court upheld the Supreme Court’s judgement as being “as sweeping as it was unequivocal,” and that the two couples, who are now married, could attempt to show that Davis acted unreasonably against them.

“In short, plaintiffs pleaded a violation of their right to marry: a right the Supreme Court clearly established,” Circuit Judge Richard Griffin wrote.

Davis had been appealing an earlier District Court judgement against her.

However the Circuit Court judges ruled that “The District Court … correctly denied qualified immunity to Davis.”

Davis is now retired after losing her re-election bid to be Rowan County Clerk last year.

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3 responses to “Judges rule clerk who refused to marry gay couples can be sued”

  1. Let’s just abolish marriage – it is all a complete utter sham anyway to feed crony capitalism and greedy governments.

    • I would never presume that Libertarians all share the same opinions but it’s worth pointing out that the entire marriage equality movement started in the 1970’s in the US … with Libertarians.

      It’s a simple enough position, if it’s good enough for straights then gays should too.

      Gay people overwhelmingly weren’t interested in marriage at that time, for largely the reasons Paul cites here. Feminists had a very similar position for largely similar reasons. It’s taken a full generation to pass for that to change. But it has changed.

      So point taken Paul, but as a Libertarian you can chalk up marriage equality as a win for your team despite your personal opposition to the institution.

      • Dave, the fact that $200 million of taxpayers money was wasted on marriage equality made me a libertarian as well as $75 billion wasted in Australia on a very crappy 80th slowest internet NBN network in the world. I in fact voted YES, along with 60% of others in Australia just in fact proves my point exactly. Only 1,000 or so gay couples in fact chosen haven gotten married so far – just reinforced society that not many people are getting married in 2019 anyway and that marriage as an institution is thankfully dying a slow death and being fully replaced by gender-neutal bathrooms, abortion on demand, vontrary assisted dying and gender-neutal birth certificates. I was once a leftist too, but then I grew up and took the yellow libertarian pill in 2017!