Lawsuits against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis have been dismissed by court.
You might remember Kim Davis as the Kentucky County clerk who captured the nation’s attention by refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples in 2015. Davis is back in the national spotlight after three marriage license lawsuits against her were quashed and dismissed on Thursday, August 18.
In 2015, after the Supreme Court had ruled that same sex marriages were legal in all states, the Rowan County Clerk reportedly refused to grant marriage licenses to same sex couples, arguing that her name would be on the licenses and this was something that went against her religious beliefs and conscience. U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning had her spend five days in jail for being in contempt of court. This was after she disregarded a court order to issue the licenses after the matter had been taken to court.
In the ensuing court drama, Davis was slapped with marriage license lawsuits from two same sex couples and two straight couples. However, since 2015 the laws in Kentucky have changed, and it is no longer necessary for County Clerks to have their names listed on the marriage licenses.
In an executive order, Republican Governor Matt Bevin removed the provision that required the names of counties and county clerks to feature in marriage licenses. He remarked in the executive order that the current marriage license law “creates a substantial burden on the freedom of religion of some county clerks and employees of their offices because the current form bears the name of the issuing county clerk, and some county clerks and their employees sincerely believe that the presence of their name on the form implies their personal endorsement of, and participation in, same-sex marriage, which conflicts with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
By changing the law, the Governor made the existing lawsuits in court irrelevant and moot, which is essentially what the presiding Judge David Bunning commented while quashing the lawsuits, “there no longer remains a case or controversy before the court.”Immediately after the ruling was made, Liberty Counsel, a religious rights organization issued a press release celebrating the decision to dismiss the lawsuits.
Mat Staver, the chairman of Liberty Counsel said, “County clerks are now able to perform their public service without being forced to compromise their religious liberty. The case is now closed and the door has been shut on the ACLU's attempt to assess damages against Kim Davis. This victory is not just for Kim Davis. It is a victory for everyone who wants to remain true to their deeply-held religious beliefs regarding marriage while faithfully serving the public.”
When the executive order was passed last April, Michael Aldridge who is the executive director of The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) approved it and was satisfied with the uniform marriage license that dealt with the issues brought by all the interested parties in the case.