| ASHLAND, Ky., Sept 3
ASHLAND, Ky., Sept 3 A county clerk in Kentucky
who has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples
based on her religious beliefs heads to court on Thursday where
a federal judge could hold her in contempt for defying his order
to do so.
Lawyers for Kim Davis, the elected Rowan County clerk who is
an Apostolic Christian, on Wednesday asked U.S. District Judge
David Bunning to temporarily block his order requiring her to
issue marriage licenses while she appeals the issue.
Davis has refused to issue licenses to any couples, gay or
straight, since the U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled that
same-sex couples have the right to marry under the U.S.
Four couples filed a federal lawsuit in July challenging her
office policy not to issue licenses and Bunning in August ruled
for the couples, finding that Davis had to live up to her
official duties as a county clerk despite her religious beliefs.
Davis has appealed his order to the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the Sixth Circuit, which turned down her request for a stay
pending appeal last week. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday also
turned down her request for an emergency stay.
Davis has refused since the Supreme Court order this week to
issue marriage licenses and same-sex couples on Tuesday filed a
motion asking Bunning to hold her in contempt of court, seeking
fines but no jail time.
"To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue," Davis
said in a statement this week. "It is about marriage and God's
word. It is a matter of religious liberty."
The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, which
represents the couples seeking the contempt order, said on
Tuesday the law is clear. "The duty of public officials is to
enforce the law, not place themselves above it," it said.
Davis is represented by Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based
Christian religious advocacy organization, which said in court
papers on Wednesday an injunction would halt the "irreversible
implications on Davis' conscience" while she appeals the case.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, a Democrat, ordered all
county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples,
but has no authority over Davis' office.
(Reporting by Steve Bittenbender in Ashland, Kentucky; Writing
by David Bailey; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)