Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Ky., clerk, spent five days in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses. Photo by Carter County Detention Center.

Kim Davis' altered marriage licenses raise legal questions

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis may have breached a federal court order when she heavily modified marriage licenses to remove her name, an attorney for one of Davis' deputies warns in a filing Friday.

Davis, the elected county clerk who believes same-sex marriage is a sin, spent five days in jail for refusing to obey a federal judge’s order that she issue the licenses to same-sex couples.

Deputy Clerk Brian Mason began providing the forms to couples earlier this month while Davis remained in jail, and he has continued to give them out following her release.

READ: The ‘Splainer: What’s an Apostolic Christian and why is Kim Davis’ hair so long?

However, he is concerned that changes to the licenses have resulted in "substantial questions about validity," Richard Hughes, an attorney for Mason, wrote Friday. 

"I discussed with Mr. Mason in my opinion he had done nothing wrong and is continuing to follow his sworn testimony to the court, however it also appears to this counsel 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 wrote.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning warned Davis not to interfere with deputies when he released her from custody, but she altered the marraige licenses in several places when she returned to work the following week.

READ: Kim Davis may be out of jail, but conscience conflicts remain (COMMENTARY)

The changes removed any mention of Davis' name or her office, and the form now states that it was issued pursuant to a federal court order rather than the county clerk. Mason also now initials the paperwork as a notary rather than a deputy clerk.

Friday's filing says that Mason finds himself in a difficult position.

"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," Hughes wrote.

Story by Mike Wynn for The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal


  1. Time to go back to prison Ms Davis.

    In all fairness, once the licenses are signed by officiates they are replaced by marriage certificates. The real record of the marriage’s existence in state records. As long as the certificates are issued from the state for the licenses, these irregularities would probably be overlooked (if not for the bigot crowd looking for ways to deny marriage rights).

    Still it amounts to a way to defy the court’s orders. Time for her to go.

  2. This situation reminds me of dealing with a difficult child who, given rules to follow by adults, repeatedly pushes against them, or finds ways to reinterpret them in creative ways for their own benefit. The game she’s playing is brazenly childish. She needs to grow up and act her age and do what she agreed to do as a condition of her release, or else admit up-front she has no intention of obeying the judge and remain in jail like a good little Christian martyr.

  3. Conscience reigns supreme. The judge who threw her in jail should place himself in jail.

  4. There is no act of conscience in acting like a dillhole to people and attacking their rights.

    Her cheerleaders are terrible, immoral people. This is not someone being brave. Its someone acting like a malicious self important (insert expletive of choice).

  5. Greg1, your non-general “conscience” obviously does not reign supreme here. The law does, and that’s fantastic for us as a society. It sure helps to keep religious fools at bay, although that is still something we all should watch for since they are always trying to subvert the law to their holey books.

  6. Throw himself in jail? He put her in jail because she did not follow a FEDERAL COURT ORDER. Also known as contempt of court, which is illegal. The only conscience hear is Kim’s that allows her to break the law and not do her job. Impeach her.

  7. Marie, the gays are getting their licenses, so who cares who’s name are on them? Leave the woman alone; she takes her Faith seriously, and to put her name on those licenses would wound her conscience. That is a simple First Amendment Right. The Judge erred when he sent her to prison. We all know what the Supreme Court was up to when they passed this nonsense, and that is–in short–judicial activism, but this lower level judge should know better.

  8. Tell that to the Leftists who practice civil disobedience on a daily basis, and never get thrown in jail.

  9. Kim Davis does not believe in what the Bible says. Nowhere in the Bible is there a prohibition against gay marriage.
    However, Jesus is quoted as taking a very dim view of divorce: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31-32; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18) 
    And in Leviticus (from whence cometh all that anti-gay rhetoric): “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.” (Leviticus 20:10)
    In addition, Jesus is quoted as saying, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Mark 12:17)
    Kim Davis is only using the Bible to hide her own mean-spirited bigotry against gay people for her own self-aggrandizement. Shameful. If she can’t do her job (as proscribed by “the emperor”), she should quit; otherwise she is giving good Christians a bad name.

  10. Its not just you. I am seeing a lot of my comments scrubbed also.

  11. When Christians were martyred and continue to be martyred they usually are killed in a gruesome way. To speak of their sacrifice in a demeaning way is intellectually and historically dishonest.

  12. I am thankful that you were not one of the framers of our constitution. Try going to law school first before you make comments about the law. Ms Davis has more than you realize that she can stand on for her actions. Also if you have time read Dr King’s letter from the jail in Birmingham. His definition of an unjust law, like the infamous Dredd Scot decision by the US Supreme Court, must be resisted no matter what your your job is. The Nazis executed judges who resisted their laws and refused to persecute the Jews. Civil rights cut both ways and believers are not going to give in.

  13. The Framers of the Constitution believed human beings could be owned as chattel property. They are hardly the be-all and end-all of thinking on civil liberties. 🙂

    “Ms Davis has more than you realize that she can stand on for her actions.”

    No she doesn’t. She has lawyers who are making a ton of money off the publicity and are planning on sticking her with the costs to the state for her nonsense.

    To compare someone who is actively trying to attack the rights of the public with MLK is repugnant and utter fiction. Kim Davis is closer to George Wallace in front of the U of Al. auditorium trying to keep black teenagers from registering for school.

    Not all people who break laws are acting heroically. There is nothing unjust about marriage equality. If nabobs like yourself could articulate rational and secular reasons for a gay marriage ban, they would not have lost in Court.
    There is no civil rights issue for Davis. Just a whinybaby with a lot of enablers.

  14. So who “on the left” is currently defying court orders and trying to deny people their rights under the laws through whining and childish actions?

    People who talk about enforcing rule of law have to have some understanding of the laws being enforced. To know what is and what is not a just law. To know whether they are even being violated. Every time you bring up the subject, you just demonstrate how little you know on the subject.

  15. Who is being “martyred” in the US?

    Oh no, people are pushing back from Fundamentalist Christians abusing public power! Such persecution! Give me a break. Do you need some cheese to go with your whine?

    There is no sacrifice or act of conscience to maliciously attack the rights of others. You demean the sacrifices of actual brave people with principles with such nonsense.

    “Fox News panel: Kim Davis’ lawyer, Mat Staver, is ridiculously stup1d.”

    Virtually everybody with any amount of expertise, liberal, conservative, and everywhere in between, is telling Kim Davis she’s in the legal wrong. Like creationists listening to Ken Ham instead of to the consensus of all biologists, one can only wonder why Kim Davis continues to listen to the one person, who has conflicts of interest every which way (and who benefits from Kim sitting in jail), instead of to every other legal expert.

  17. This is nonsense. LGBT couples are entirely deserving of the exact same licenses heterosexuals get. In some jurisdictions clerk signatures are required. Davis’ petty petulance is not an act of conscience but one of political calculation.

  18. What do you mean? She’s got the best and brightest the religious right has to offer exploiting her. Her attorney is Mat Staver, Dean of the Liberty University Law School – that’s like chief counsel to the Fallwell family grifting business right there.

  19. Hmmm. Which “Leftists” are these, pray tell? The “Occupy’ people were certainly met with considerably more threats of arrests and worse than any of the “Tea Party” advocating insurrection against the President.

    I have to laugh whenever I hear the religious right whine about law enforcement’s role in the expression of idea. When antiabortion demonstrators – hostile people dedicated to slut-shaming – get busted invariably right-wing reports note the handcuffs were too tight.

    You want to be able to dish it out but you can’t take it, like all bullies.

  20. LOL! You made my day (a Monday!) with that! You know, my 7th Grade Texas History teacher, the late Robert B. Green, was a part-time Deputy County Clerk in Bexar County (Texas; San Antonio to be precise) during the summer breaks and Chief Deputy after he retired from teaching, then elected for three terms on his own. He was a man of honor and integrity. How unlike Davis, who made herself a poster child for extremism and hatred by refusing to do her duty as she had sworn to do.

  21. Kim Davis going to jail for contempt of court and refusing to do her job isn’t martyrdom. It’s stupidity and Christian exceptionalism at its worst.

    You want martyrdom, let’s talk about Gay people being imprisoned for existing, murdered for existing, attacked on the street for existing, called a threat to marriage, family, children faith, freedom, and western civilization for daring to say our lives are as valuable as yours.

  22. I agree with you. According to reports, she has removed the name of the county issuing the forms. As a qualified presider at weddings, I would immediately question the validity of the form. Generally forms have some statement like: To be returned to county where issued within X days of the ceremony. Where would I send it?

    This is her unilateral attempt to defy the court, by getting her name off the form, and she doesn’t apparently care about the uncertainty this creates. I think the judge needs to let her know who has the last word on the issue. She still doesn’t get it.

    Pr Chris

  23. Kim Davis you are a wonderful beloved Christian.. After you have done all that you can do to Stand. Stand Therefore. Put on the whole Armour of God Ephesians 6:13. The battle is not yours but the Lords’. God loves you greatly for your stand and will vindicate you soon. Blessings to you & yours!.


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