Same-Sex Couples in Kentucky Finally Obtain Marriage Licenses After County Clerk Refused to Issue Them

Gay Marriage
Same-Sex Couples Marriage Licenses in Rowan County

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Since June, when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage across the nation, Kentucky's Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has refused to issue a single marriage license to same-sex couples. But on Thursday, a federal judge sent Davis to jail on charges of contempt of court — and for the first time, at least six same-sex couples successfully received licenses in her absence, The New York Times reports. In other words: love wins again.

"I think it shows that equality is everywhere," said William Smith who, along with his partner James Yates, was the first to receive a marriage license after Davis' jailing. While he admitted to The New York Times that he and Yates could have gone to another office to get their license, he said, "this is where we live. This is where we pay taxes. This is our home."

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, which broke the story Thursday, Davis told U.S. District Judge David Bunning her "conscience will not allow me" to issue the licenses. But the judge replied, "In this country, we live in a society of laws. Our system of justice requires citizens — and significantly, elected officials — to follow the rules of the courts."

See More: 9 Brides Look Back on Their Same-Sex Wedding Day

Davis will remain incarcerated for at least a week, according to the newspaper. From her cell, she's vowed to stop her office from issuing the licenses should she return. Davis has also repeatedly refused to resign her post.

The clerk also faces suits from two same-sex couples denied marriages licenses in her office. "It's sad in a way that Ms. Davis decided she wants to stay in jail," Jody Fernandez, one of the individuals in the couples denied licenses, told the newspaper. "I never wanted her to be going to jail. But that was her choice today."

Davis' attorneys on Thursday asked the charges and fines against their client be dropped, and were denied. "Today, for the first time in American history, an American citizen has been incarcerated for having the belief and conscience that marriage is a union of one man and one woman," said one of the attorneys, Roger Gannam.

Davis, a Democrat, could still face impeachment. But that seems unlikely, the newspaper reports, because she's received vocal support from lawmakers.

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