Judge Orders Former KY Clerk to Pay $260K in Same-Sex Wedding Dispute, but Case Could Backfire

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Former county clerk Kim Davis, who refused to issue marriage licenses in Kentucky to same-sex couples, must pay a total of $260,104 in fees and expenses to attorneys who represented one couple, according to a federal judge’s latest ruling.

That ruling is in addition to $100,000 in damages a jury awarded last September, saying the former Rowan County clerk should pay the homosexual couple who sued her in the case Ermold v. Davis.

Davis, 58, an evangelical Christian, is represented by attorneys with the Liberty Counsel, a Christian religious rights law firm. Her attorneys argued the fees requested by the couple’s lawyers were unreasonable, but U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning disagreed, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader

Davis must pay the men’s attorneys fees and costs because they prevailed in the lawsuit, Bunning said.

Religious Freedom at Stake: Case Could Backfire on LGBT Agenda

However, in a statement, Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver declared, “This case is far from over.” 

“Because of Kim Davis, every clerk in Kentucky now has the freedom to serve as an elected official without compromising their religious convictions and conscience. This case has the potential to extend the same religious freedom protections beyond Kentucky and to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, which was wrongly decided and should be overturned,” Staver added. 

Davis’ attorneys have announced they will file a motion this month to ask the U.S. District Court of Eastern Kentucky to reverse the jury verdict against her. They argue the evidence presented at trial simply does not support that verdict because there were no lost wages and they presented no supporting testimony regarding emotional injury. 

According to Liberty Counsel, Judge Bunning also improperly allowed questions concerning whether any potential juror had religious or moral objections to “same-sex marriage.” 

The nonprofit law firm said the judge overruled its objection, and that permitted the plaintiffs to exclude all jurors that have religious beliefs and those who had objections to “same-sex marriage.” That question essentially excluded jurors based on religion, which is unlawful under current legal precedent and federal law.

If their motion is denied, Liberty Counsel said it will then appeal the case to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and from there to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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slider img 2How the Case Began

As CBN News reported, Davis gained international attention in August 2015 when she defied a federal court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. 

Two different same-sex couples sued Davis later that year following the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legalized “same-sex marriage” in the U.S. 

Davis refused to personally issue the two homosexual couples marriage licenses based on her belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman. She spent five days in jail after being found in contempt of court after she refused to sign the couples’ licenses, according to The New York Post. She was released after her staffers issued the licenses without her signature. 

As CBN News reported, in the first lawsuit against her, the jury in Yates v. Davis returned a verdict of zero damages against Davis. The plaintiffs originally asked for $300,000 in damages. The jury deliberated for about 45 minutes before returning the verdict. 

However, in the second case of Ermold v. Davis, the jury awarded $100,000 in damages ($50,000 each) to David Ermold and David Moore, despite hearing the same evidence and the same arguments the first jury heard. 

In a December 2015 interview, the plaintiffs Ermold and Moore, admitted to GQ Magazine they had never even discussed getting married until they saw a social media post announcing a protest at Davis’ Rowan County, KY, clerk’s office. The two men went to Davis’ office on five separate occasions to confront her with their cameras recording videos that were later posted to social media, according to Liberty Counsel. 

Liberty argues that Davis is not liable for any damages because she was entitled to a religious accommodation from issuing marriage licenses under her name and authority because it would violate her religious beliefs. 

Religious Freedom Victories Have Already Occurred

When the newly elected Republican Governor Matt Bevin took office in December 2015, he granted religious accommodation to all clerks by Executive Order. 

Then in April 2016, the Kentucky legislature unanimously granted religious and conscience accommodation to all clerks from issuing marriage licenses that conflict with their religious beliefs, the law firm said. 

Davis was voted out of office in 2018. 

Then in 2019, a three-judge panel of the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that Davis could be sued for her actions as a public official. 

Liberty Counsel argues Davis was entitled to an accommodation of her sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage under both the First Amendment and Kentucky law and she should not be held liable for requesting an accommodation, which she did receive in December 2015.

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