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No Ruling In Lawsuit Against Rowan County Clerk Who Refuses To Issue Marriage Licenses

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No ruling was made Monday in a lawsuit pressing Rowan County, Kentucky, Clerk Kim Davis to issue marriage licenses.

Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, saying her religious convictions prevented her from doing so. She's among at least a couple Kentucky county clerks taking such a stand.

She is being sued by two same-sex and two opposite-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses in Rowan County two weeks ago.

The plaintiffs allege that Davis is violating the establishment clause of the constitution by refusing to perform her duties on religious grounds. Davis did not appear at the hearing, her attorneys said that she had not been properly notified of the lawsuit.

During the hearing, three plaintiffs testified that they tried to obtain marriage licenses and were denied in Rowan County.

Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign, said U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning asked pointed questions about why Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses.

"He kept repeatedly asking why Ms. Davis cannot issue the marriage licenses, what's preventing her from doing it, what's the state's compelling interest in the state refusing the marriage licenses," Hartman said.

The plaintiffs are represented by ACLU of Kentucky and allege that Davis is violating the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution by refusing to perform her duties on religious grounds.

Davis is being represented by Liberty Counsel, a non-profit law firm that specializes in cases that deal with religious liberty.

Jonathan Christman, one of the attorneys representing Davis, said her actions are protected by state and federal religious freedom laws.

"Today the judge did not order Ms. Davis to violate her religious conscience and that’s good for America," Christman said.

"She is not violating the Establishment Clause by upholding the First amendment Free Exercise clause that protects her religious liberty and conscience as well as the Kentucky protections under the Kentucky Constitution and the Kentucky Religious Freedom Restoration Act that protect her religious rights," Christman said.

Once she is served, another hearing will take place, this time in Covington.

The ruling came weeks after the Supreme Court struck down bans on same-sex marriage throughout the U.S. Most Kentucky county clerks began issuing marriage licensesto same-sex couples the day the court struck down the bans, following Gov. Steve Beshear's directions.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. Email Ryland at rbarton@lpm.org.