LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Reuters) - A deputy for the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed after refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples questioned on Friday the validity of the licenses he has issued since his boss’ return.
In a filing with the federal judge overseeing a lawsuit against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis for not issuing marriage licenses, the attorney for deputy clerk Brian Mason said he has “some substantial questions” about the new licenses Davis altered and gave him to issue after she returned to work on Monday.
He is concerned the licenses do not mention the name of the county. Davis has directed him to sign the licenses as a notary public, instead of as a deputy county clerk, Mason’s attorney, Richard Hughes, said in the documents.
While Davis also does not believe the licenses are valid, no one has challenged their legality in court. Both the state’s governor and attorney general have said the new licenses are valid.
The issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Kentucky and other states has become the latest focal point in a long-running debate over gay marriage in the United States.
Davis, 50, has said her beliefs as an Apostolic Christian prevent her from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She was jailed for five days earlier this month for refusing to comply with a judge’s order to issue licenses in line with a Supreme Court ruling in June that made gay marriage legal across the United States.
She has been under the threat of returning to jail if she interferes in the issuance of licenses.
Davis and her attorneys have maintained that any licenses issued without her authorization were invalid, and after she returned to work this week the documents issued did not carry her name, title, personal authorization or mention of the county name.
Her attorneys said the newer license was a good faith effort to meet U.S. District Judge David Bunning’s order to issue the licenses, a stance they repeated on Friday.
“If there’s any attempt here to accuse Ms. Davis of wrongdoing or insinuate that she’s somehow doing something wrong, we would completely disagree with that,” said Roger Gannam, an attorney for Davis.
However, Hughes said he believes that Davis’ “changes were made in some attempt to circumvent the court’s orders and may have raised to the level of interference against the court’s orders.”
Five of Davis’ deputies swore in court they would issue the licenses, but by mutual agreement Mason has been the only one doing that work, according to the filing.
Reporting by Steve Bittenbender; Writing by Ben Klayman; Editing by Lisa Shumaker