August 17, 2015 at 6:06 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Judge gives Ky. clerk time to appeal in marriage case
hate crime, gay news, Washington Blade

A federal judge has given time for a Ky. clerk to appeal an order requiring her to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

A federal judge has given time to a Kentucky clerk seeking to appeal an order requiring her to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — but attorneys involved in the case are split on the meaning of the decision.

In a seven-page order, U.S. District Judge David Bunning, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, denied a stay request from Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis on his earlier injunction requiring her to give marriage licenses at her offices to all couples — gay or straight — as litigation against her proceeds to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex couples, Davis, an Apostolic Christian, enacted a “no licenses” policy in her office based on her religious beliefs for all couples seeking marriage license regardless of their sexual orientation.

Bunning says he’s basing his denying of the stay on the unlikelihood that she would succeed on appeal, dismissing arguments Davis would be harmed if she had to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples before the Sixth Circuit renders a decision.

“While Davis is correct in stating that a violation of her free exercise rights would constitute irreparable harm, she has failed to show that she is likely to suffer a violation of her free exercise rights in the first place,” Bunning writes. “As the Court pointed out in its Memorandum Opinion and Order, Davis is only being required to certify that couples meet the legal requirements to marry. She does not have to authorize or approve any unions on moral or religious grounds. Absent a likely constitutional violation, Davis is unlikely to suffer irreparable harm absent a stay.”

But at the same time, citing “the constitutional issues involved, and realizing that emotions are running high on both sides of the debate,” Bunning decided to “temporarily stay this order” pending Davis’ appeal of the initial order to the Sixth Circuit.

Attorneys representing Davis on one hand and attorneys representing the couples suing her to issue marriage licenses on the other had differing takes on the order.

Dan Canon, an attorney representing the couples on behalf of the Louisville, Ky.-based Clay Daniel Walton Adams, PLC, said the order requiring Davis to issue marriage licenses remains in effect.

“There is nothing in the opinion that indicates she is relieved from the original injunction,” Canon said. “I think the judge is sending a clear message that she is going to be expected to abide by the injunction absent any contrary ruling by the Sixth Circuit.”

But Mat Staver, who represents the Kentucky clerk on behalf of the founder of Florida-based Liberty Counsel, is quoted in the Associated Press as saying the convoluted order essentially grants her request for more time.

Despite the initial injunction last week, Davis has defied the court and continues to deny marriage licenses in her office — at least to same-sex couples. One of the couples, David Moore and David Ermold, posted a video online of clerk officials denying them a marriage license despite the court order.

Allison Steinberg, a spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the most recent court order means Davis doesn’t have to issue marriage licenses as the litigation proceeds on appeal.

“We think the district court is confident that the court of appeals will agree with him in short order and it will be better for everyone to have certainty,” Steinberg said.

UPDATE: On Wednesday, Bunning issued a clarifying order saying his stay intended to temporarily halt the order last week requiring Davis to issue marriage licenses. Further, the clarifying order says the temporary stay is set to expire Aug. 31 absent a contrary order from the Sixth Circuit.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

2 Comments
  • He’s now issued what amounts to a stay — when he’s really confident that the ruling that blows all her arguments out of the water will stand, when the normal course would be to deny a stay and threaten her with contempt if she doesn’t comply — because emotions are high, when a stay would more quickly make it clear that this is the way of things under the law, more quickly quieting those emotions than keeping them alive by giving her more time.
    In other words, he’s fence riding, which doesn’t serve justice that is being delayed, thus denied.

  • I don’t know what monkey god those who want to force Sharia Law on America worship, but every Christian knows that God said nothing to Christians about gay marriage.

    Allow me to explain the Christian position on gay marriage to the heathens, papists, demon possessed TeaBaggers/Conservatives, and pagans.

    The prohibition against two men having sex in the Old Testament is in what used to be called “The Law.” The same Law that made eating shrimp, lobster, and crab etc. an “Abomination.”

    The same Law that does not apply to Christians. The Old Testament law was given to the ancient Israelites, not to Christians.

    Same sex marriage was allowed in the Roman world that Jesus lived in, and he has nothing bad to say about it. (It was hundreds of years later, after Rome started banning same sex marriage that the empire started to collapse as it became more and more theocratic.)

    Morally, American has been dragged into to 1st Century from the stone age by the Supreme Court’s ruling. We now need to continue this trend and drag ourselves into the 21st Century. These self-proclaimed, but fake, Christians need to be totally marginalized before they endanger even more souls, not just theirs and their children’s souls who they have currently condemned to Hell with their false religion.

    As for anything that Saul of Tarsus, who contradicts what Jesus actually said on multiple occasions, said: That mere fact that Saul contradicts what Jesus actually said on multiple occasions, makes Saul one of the false prophets that Jesus warned us about and puts Saul at the top of the list of people to ignore.

    Even the followers of the false prophet Saul of Tarsus have no supporting arguments. Their false prophet, in Romans 1 only speaks about sexual ritual in pagan temples, bot straight and same sex. Saul was only saying that if you want to be a fake Christian like him, you could not worship other gods by doing A, B and C, including the sexual rituals. Nothing more, nothing less. The other two times Saul mentions gays are a miscellaneous catalogues of behaviors that are regarded as unacceptable, with no particular emphasis placed on any individual item in the list.

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