Former county clerk Kim Davis has been ordered to pay $260,104 in legal fees after refusing to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Davis’s anti-gay refusal
Republican Kim Davis made headlines in 2015 when she went against the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage in Kentucky. Despite the ruling, Davis turned away same-sex couples seeking a marriage license.
Republican clerks rebel
Davis was one of three clerks who decided to stand against the ruling in 2015. At a rally with the other two clerks, Davis told their supporters, “I need your prayers … to continue to stand firm in what we believe.”
An act against God
Davis, an Apostolic Christian, defended her decision on religious grounds, stating that signing same-sex marriage licenses would constitute an act against God and an infringement on her religious liberties.
Davis refuses to back down
In a statement released on the Liberty Counsel’s website in 2015, Davis said, “To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision.”
God’s word is final
The statement continued, “To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God’s Word. It is a matter of religious liberty, which is protected under the First Amendment, the Kentucky Constitution, and in the Kentucky Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”
Judge rules against Davis
However, the court was not on board with the Republican’s defense. After a same-sex couple filed a lawsuit against Davis, she was ordered to pay $100,000 in damages to the couple, in addition to $260,104 in other legal fees and expenses.
Davis’s jail time
The fine marks Davis’s second penalty for her unlawful decision, after she originally spent five days in jail in 2015 for her refusal to sign gay marriage licenses.
Kim’s staff signed it
The judge refused to release Davis from jail until she complied with the gay marriage law. After initially resisting the order, the former clerk was ultimately freed when her staff signed the rejected marriage licenses on her behalf.
A large price to pay
During the trial, Davis argued that the fees she faced outweighed her crime. However, District Judge David Bunning, the same judge who originally decided she must face jail time, ultimately ordered the former clerk to fully compensate the couple and their attorneys.
Judge Bunning speaks out
According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Judge Bunning stated, “They sought to vindicate their fundamental right to marry and obtain marriage licenses and they did so.”
A ‘bittersweet’ victory
One of the couple’s attorneys, Joseph Buckles, told The Washington Post the ruling was “bittersweet,” explaining that “It all came at a cost to my clients. Their life was put under a microscope, every detail about them was brought into court. They became celebrities for a cause they never chose.”
A hard-won battle
While ultimately successful in their lawsuit, the couple was forced to fight a long legal battle to achieve the outcome. Buckles stated that although the couple is “thrilled with the results and they have renewed faith in the justice system, even the latest ruling doesn’t erase the last 8 years of their life.”