Kim Davis May Be Interfering With Marriage Licenses, Deputy Clerk's Attorney Says
This story has been updated.
Under the conditions of her release from jail, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis is prohibited from interfering with the issuance of marriage licenses to eligible parties, including same-sex couples.
But an attorney representing a deputy clerk who has issued the documents said on Friday that Davis' altering of the marriage license forms may qualify as interference.
When a same-sex couple got a marriage license on Monday, Davis removed her own name and title from the license, instead inserting: “Pursuant to Federal Court Order #15-CV-44 DLB."
In a status report filed Friday with U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning, attorney Richard Hughes said it appeared to him that “those 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.”
Hughes represents Brian Mason, a deputy clerk who has issued marriage licenses since Sept. 4.
Davis was jailed for five days earlier this month after defying Bunning’s order to resume issuing marriage licenses, which she had stopped doing since the Supreme Court effectively legalized same-sex marriage in June. Davis has said issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples would violate her deeply held religious beliefs.
According to Bunning’s order releasing Davis from jail last week, she would be met with "appropriate sanctions" if she interfered with her deputy clerks issuing marriage licenses.
In his report to Bunning, Hughes said the changes Davis made to the form “may in fact have some substantial questions about validity.”
Hughes also detailed Mason’s account of how she altered the marriage license forms upon returning to her office on Monday following her stint in jail. Hughes wrote:
“Kim Davis came to the office and confiscated all the original forms, and provided a changed form which deletes all mentions of the County, fills in one of the blanks that would otherwise be the County with the Court's styling, deletes her name, deletes all of the deputy clerk references, and in place of deputy clerk types in the name of Brian Mason, and has him initial rather than sign. There is now a notarization beside his initials in place of where otherwise signatures would be."
The ACLU of Kentucky and Davis’ attorneys have already raised questions about the validity of the licenses. But earlier this week, Gov. Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway said the licenses are valid.
Roger Gannam, an attorney for Davis, said on Friday that he finds the report "puzzling" because Beshear has already said the licenses are valid.
"We’re satisfied that with the governor's statement that the licenses are valid, and do not believe that there’s any basis to accuse Kim Davis of doing anything wrong," Gannam said.
Earlier this month, Davis' attorneys said marriage licenses issued out of her office were invalid because she did not sign them or approve her deputy clerks to issuing them.
Casey County Clerk Casey Davis, who had also taken a stand against issuing marriage licenses, on Friday said he thinks the licenses are invalid.
In the filing on Friday, Hughes said he expected “there will be other parties” to request the federal court to review the validity of the altered licenses.
Hughes added: "Again, Mr. Mason's concern is he does not want to be the party that is issuing invalid marriage licenses, and he is trying to follow the court's mandate as well as his superior ordering him to issue only these changed forms and only with initials and only as notarized, which in the last example I have seen are not even notarized."
Here's the document:
Brian Mason Status Report
(Photo of Rowan County Clerk Brian Mason by Ryland Barton)