(Reuters) – Two of these couples can sue a Kentucky county clerk who received widespread attention in 2015 for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a federal appeal court ruled Friday.
PHOTO FILE: Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis who speaks during an interview on The Kelly File & # 39; in Fox News in New York 23 September 2015. REUTERS / Brendan McDermid / File Photo
In a 3-0 decision, the 6th US Circuit Court in Cincinnati said Kim Davis could be sued in his individual capacity, although he had been granted a dominant exemption from his position as Rowan County Clerk.
Davis claimed that Obergefell v Hodges, the Supreme Court's decision in 2015 which recognizes a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, did not apply because it stopped issuing licenses to everyone regardless of sexual orientation, and that the complainants could obtain licenses in places. other.
But the appeal court asked a Supreme Court decision “as it was inevitable,” and said that the respective couples – David Ermold and David Moore, and Will Smith and James Yates – could try to show that he acted Davis unreasonably.
“In summary, complainants pleaded with their right to marry: the Supreme Court clearly established in Obergefell,” wrote Judge Circuit Richard Griffin. “So the district court denied a qualified exemption for Davis.”
The decision stood with controls by US District Judge David Bunning in Covington, Kentucky and he sent the procedures back to him. Both couples are now married.
Davis lost his reelection offer as Rowan County clerk last year. According to Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, she is now retired.
“At the end of the day, it will eventually prevail. There was no hostility at anyone, since she stopped issuing every marriage license, ”Staver said in an interview.
“The wider issue is the accommodation a court should provide for a person based on their religious belief,” he said. “It is a matter of time before such a case goes before the Supreme Court.”
Michael Gartland, a lawyer for Ermold and Moore, said that his clients on the 6th full Circuit might ask for a review of the question of commander exemption. “No matter what happens, we are going to try out Ms Davis in her individual capacity,” he said.
Kash Stilz, Smith and Yates's lawyer, said that his clients were happy that their progress would continue.
In addition, the appeal court upheld a separate solicitor fee award for other couples who had been refused by Davis to refuse marriage licenses.
Both decided two hours after another federal appeal court said that two Minnesota videographers, Angel and Carl Larsen, could sue the state to claim they filmed same-sex films while it infringed Christian faith.
The exemption cases are Ermold et al v Davis et al, 6th Court of Circuit Appeals, Numbers 17-6119 and 17-6233; and Smith et al v Davis et al in the same court; 17-6120 and 17-6226.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Edited by Marguerita Choy
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