A Kentucky county clerk was ordered by a jury to personally pay $100,000 in damages to a gay couple, some eight years after she refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses due to her religious beliefs.
Davis’ attorney, however, vows that they will appeal the decision in the case, Ermold v. Davis.
“We look forward to appealing this decision and taking this case to the U.S. Supreme Court,” attorney Mat Staver, at the firm of Liberty Counsel, said according to the Washington Times. “Kim Davis has blazed the trail in Kentucky where she has obtained religious freedom for all clerks. Now it is time to extend that freedom to everyone, and that is what Liberty Counsel intends to do.”
Kim Davis, 57, who then served as the Rowan County Clerk, went to jail after defying a court order to issue licenses to same sex couples, reported NPR in 2015.
In a second similar case, Yates v. Davis, the court decided earlier this week in favor of Davis, holding she is not personally liable and denying a gay couple damages.
Liberty Counsel argued that in addition to her First Amendment right to religious freedom, then-Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin “granted religious accommodation to all clerks by Executive Order,” which allowed Davis to refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses.
The firm also argued that Davis had “qualified immunity” as an elected official acting in good faith.
“The Ermold jury verdict is unsound and easily sets this case up for an eventual route to the U.S. Supreme Court,” tweeted Liberty Counsel.
Liberty said that the couples could have obtained licenses from other county clerks, but chose to pick on Davis deliberately because of her religious views, which were well-known.
Davis’ objection had due to with the fact that her name appeared officially on the document approving the gay marriage, contradicting her sincerely held religious beliefs.
Eventually, in December 2015 Bevan issued an executive order directing the names of county clerks to not appear on marriage licenses, reported WYMT Mountain News.
Further, the deputy clerk issued same sex marriage licenses when Davis would not, thus depriving no one of the ability to get married.
Then in 2016, the Kentucky Legislature passed into law a regulation granting religious exemptions to county clerks, reports the Washington Times.
Davis was released from jail after five days under a court order that required her not to prevent the issuance of licenses, said NPR.
The licensing dispute was occasioned by a 2015 Supreme Court decision, Obergefell v. Hodges, that found under the Fourteenth Amendment, marriage licenses couldn’t be denied to same sex couples.
“This case has the potential to go to the U.S. Supreme Court where Kim Davis will argue for religious freedom and also argue that Obergefell should be overturned,” Liberty Counsel opined, according to the Washington Times. “Three of the five justices in the Obergefell majority are no longer on the Court.”