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Court Rules Same-Sex Couple Can Seek Damages Against Kim Davis

Today, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a same-sex couple could seek damages against the county clerk who denied them a marriage license in 2015.

David Ermold and David Moore applied for a marriage license at the Rowan County Clerk’s Office in Kentucky on July 6th, 2015—just 10 days after the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed the right to marry to same-sex couples. Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk, denied the couple’s application because of her personal religious beliefs about marriage.

Davis argued that her decision did not violate Ermold and Moore’s constitutional rights because the couple, who had been together for 17 years at that point, could have obtained a marriage license in another county. Davis was ultimately jailed for contempt of court, and Ermold and Moore were issued a license by her deputy.

A 2016 bill in the state Senate changed Kentucky’s marriage license process, allowing same-sex couples to obtain a license without a country clerk’s signature—which some clerks, like Davis, might see as an endorsement of same-sex marriage and a violation of their religious freedom.