Same-sex couple brings Kim Davis back to court.
Human rights are typically defined as the rights a person has to a service or to act on something without infringing on the rights of others. This definition was put to the test in one Kentucky courtroom as a gay couple sued a county clerk for denying them her signature on a marriage certificate.
Kim Davis is a clerk in Rowan County in the state of Kentucky. Back in 2015, Davis refused to sign the marriage license of a gay couple, David Ermold, and David Moore. Ermold and Moore could not officiate the marriage without her signature. Therefore, they filed a suit citing damages by the clerk.
The case was brought before Judge David Bunning in 2016. The two plaintiffs argued that they had undergone losses because of Davis’s refusal to sign their license. On her part, Davis stated that her religious beliefs would not allow her to officiate a gay couple’s marriage. Davis remarked that she felt like that would be endorsing homosexuality, which was against her Apostolic Church’s values. In the end, Justice Bunning ordered Davis to continue signing the certificates as did other clerks. Davis refused and was held in jail for six days in contempt of the court order.
During the course of this case, Kentucky ushered in a new Governor, Gov. Matt Bevin. The Davis case at this point had become a national story. Viewers protested her arrest, while others rebuked her intolerance toward gay couples. Davis filed a suit against The State of Kentucky for ‘violating her religious rights.' She remarked that she had been arrested for only sticking to her religious beliefs.
Not much later, the new state governor signed an executive order allowing county officials to leave out their names as they officiated ceremonies such as marriage.
Davis dropped her case, saying that she was content that her religious accommodation would not be threatened again due to the order. Another result was that Judge Bunning declared the case against Davis moot and dismissed it.
Ermold and Moore appealed the justice’s decision in the 6th U.S. Circuit Federal Court of Appeals. The couple commented that it had sufficient grounds for damages that resulted from Davis’s decision. Liberty Counsel, which represented Ms. Davis, cited religious accommodation as their defense. After much consideration, the court of appeal judges decided for Moore and Ermold, declaring that Bunning's decision was too generalized for the case in question.
According to the appeal court, Bunnings had thrown out the case because he concluded that the gay couple was against Bevin’s executive policy. The court disagreed with this sentiment. The Ermold-Moore case, the 6th Circuit court argued, was not one against policy, but against a particular harm, in this case, damages. As such, the case was not moot according to the constitution as Davis had infringed on the right of the two men to get married. The court revived the case against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis which will now be heard before Justice Bunning once more.