A Kentucky county clerk, defying a new US Supreme Court decision and citing "God's authority," rejected requests for marriage licenses from same-sex couples on 1 September, in a deepening legal standoff now two months old.
Citing her religious objections, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has refused to issue any marriage licenses since the Supreme Court in June ruled that same-sex couples had the right to marry under the US Constitution. During a heated exchange at the courthouse, same-sex couple David Ermold and David Moore challenged Davis on her position.
"I pay your salary! I pay you to discriminate against me right now. That's what I'm paying for. That's what I'm paying for. I'm paying for this memory with my partner that I love that I've been with for 17 years," cried an emotional Moore.
On 31 August the same court rejected Davis' request for an emergency order allowing her to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples while she appeals a federal judge's order requiring her to issue them. Eight people filed a federal lawsuit against Davis in July challenging her office's policy of not issuing marriage licenses to any couples - gay or straight.
The couples filed a motion asking US District Judge David Bunning to hold Davis in contempt of court, seeking fines but no jail time for the clerk. They also filed a motion asking the judge to clarify that Davis must issue licenses to everybody, not just the four couples in the case. Last month the judge said Davis had to live up to her responsibilities as county clerk despite her religious convictions.
Before leaving the courthouse on Tuesday, Moore yelled out, "Is this what you want to remember? That you stood up for this? That your children have to look at you and realize that you're bigots and you discriminate against people?" When an office employee backed Davis, saying it was "God's word", Moore replied, "God does not belong in the county clerk's office."