It was nearly three years ago, but when five Supreme Court justices created same-sex “marriage” in a decision criticized by the minority as unconnected to the Constitution, it upset many state laws and practices.
Nowhere was the problem bigger than in Kentucky, where Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis shut down her office’s marriage-licensing to avoid discriminating.
She sought a religious accommodation from the state, because as a Christian she could not lend her endorsement to the same-sex marriage.
But several homosexual duos bypassed other jurisdictions where they could have obtained licenses in order to target Davis with lawsuits, and an activist federal judge, David Bunning, ordered her to jail for nearly a week for refusing his order to violate her faith.
Eventually the claims all fell by the wayside when the state legislature changed the law specifically to grant Davis’ request for an accommodation for her faith. The only issue that remains is that Bunning overruled a magistrate who investigated the case, awarding the lawyers for the homosexuals many hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees from taxpayers.
His decision is being challenged because the magistrate ruled they were not the prevailing party in the dispute.
Now Liberty Counsel, which has worked on Davis’ case from the beginning, has filed briefs in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asking for the dismissal of two complaints that were filed against her personally because of what she did on behalf of the county and state.
“Both cases were filed by same-sex couples who received marriage licenses in 2015 while Davis was in jail, but who still want to punish Davis,” Liberty Counsel said in an announcement about the filing.
“The Ermold and Yates cases were dismissed in 2016, along with the original 2015 marriage license case Miller v. Davis, because Kentucky’s Gov. Matt Bevin and the general assembly acted to permanently change Kentucky’s marriage licensing laws to protect the religious liberty of Davis and other county clerks. But Ermold and Yates were reinstated following an appeal. The lower court ruled Davis cannot be liable for damages in her official capacity, but allowed the case to proceed against her individually.
“To succeed, Ermold and Yates would have to show that Davis violated a clearly established law. Since Davis requested a religious accommodation (which was later provided by Gov. Bevin and the legislature) that had never been ruled upon by any court, she would not have violated a clearly established law,” Liberty Counsel said.
“Today, Davis enjoys the religious accommodation she sought from the beginning. Moreover, the president of the Kentucky Senate filed a brief in support of Davis stating that the laws of Kentucky were shredded by the Supreme Court marriage opinion, and the legislature had to address them to provide guidance to the clerks. In 2016, the legislature unanimously passed a religious accommodation provision.”
The filing explains: “Davis is entitled to qualified immunity from plaintiffs’ claims because plaintiffs have not established a violation of their constitutional right to marry, let alone any clearly established constitutional right. Plaintiffs failed to identify any federal constitutional right, under Obergefell v. Hodges or otherwise, to receive a marriage license from a particular state official (Davis) at a particular place (Rowan County), irrespective of Davis’ protected religious liberty rights, when no state policy was preventing either plaintiff from marrying whom he wanted to marry, or obtaining a valid Kentucky marriage license.”
The claims by the plaintiffs “depend on a false narrative that is refuted by the record already before this court,” the legal team said.
“Both Davis’ marriage license function and her application of Kentucky RFRA to that function clearly flowed from the Commonwealth, making her a state official for sovereign immunity purposes.”
The claims by the plaintiffs, the document said, were “implausible” and “judicially known false.”
Bunning, when he ordered Davis jailed, threatened her assistants with jail if they did not issue licenses. But he never resolved whether the licenses, issued at a time state law required Davis’ signature, were valid.
“I haven’t looked into the point,” he admitted at the time.
The gay duos, despite the fact they were given licenses, have continued to try to punish Davis.
WND reported last month lawyers for Davis are asking the appeals court to overturn, once again, Bunning’s award of compensation to lawyers for the gays.
Bunning, son of baseball Hall of Famer Jim Bunning, was so anxious to rule in favor of the homosexual duos that he didn’t wait until he had jurisdiction in the case before holding a hearing, the court filings expose.
Then, even though they were not designated by the magistrate assigned to the case to be the “prevailing party,” Bunning awarded lawyers for the duos $231,000.
Davis’ lawyers long have contended that the case was not so much about same-sex duos obtaining licenses as it was an attack on Christians.
Her lawyers, at that time, noted a recurring theme in court filings from homosexuals: punish Kim Davis.
Liberty Counsel’s Staver said: “It has never really been about a marriage license – Rowan County has issued the licenses – it is about forcing their will on a Christian woman through contempt-of-court charges, jail and monetary sanctions.”
The attorneys said then: “The fact is the plaintiffs already possess marriage licenses from Rowan County that have been approved as being valid by the Kentucky governor and Kentucky attorney general. Kim has taken all reasonable steps and good faith efforts to substantially comply with this court’s orders.”
The evidence indicated the objective of the court cases was not simply to obtain licenses, but to reduce the Constitution’s religious rights to a secondary role behind homosexual rights, Liberty Counsel said.