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Federal court: 2 couples refused marriage licenses can sue Kim Davis

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Posted at 11:51 AM, Aug 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-26 11:51:21-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — A federal appeals court has ruled that former Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis can face lawsuits from two couples who sued her for failing to issue marriage licenses.

In 2015, Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the legalization of same-sex marriage. This led to several lawsuits and a short stint of jail time for Davis.

Two of the couples who sued her -- David Ermold and David Moore; and Will Smith and James Yates -- challenged Davis' claims of immunity based on her role as clerk.

In an argument that referred repeatedly to the landmark U.S Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges, the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth District said the rights of same-sex couples was established. It also noted its decision was not a ruling on whether the couples' rights had been violated but more narrowly that the allegation is reasonable and whether Davis is potentially liable.

"So we ask not whether Davis definitively violated plaintiffs’ rights but whether they adequately allege that she did," the ruling states.

The court also upheld a lower court ruling awarding $224,000 in attorney’s fees and costs in the case of couples who were refused marriage licenses by Davis.

The panel and lower court agreed that the Commonwealth of Kentucky is responsible for paying the award.