Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who was jailed on September 3 for defying court orders to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, may have defied federal court orders once again. According to a report by the Associated Press, Davis may have tampered with original license forms, making them invalid by removing her name, the name of the county, and deleting the space where deputy clerks signed their names.
Richard Hughes, attorney for Brian Mason, the deput clerk who agreed to issue licenses while Davis was in jail, said Davis may have violated orders by U.S. District Judge Bunning not to interfere with deputy clerks issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.
Davis was released from jail on September 8 after she agreed not to interfere with deputy clerks issuing marriage licenses. But now, deputy clerks are saying that Davis has made substantial alterations to the marriage licenses and rendered them invalid.
She reportedly “confiscated” the county’s original license forms and issued in their place forms that do not have her name, the name of the county and lack space for deputy clerks to sign their names.
The judge had allowed Davis to alter the documents by removing her name after she insisted that including her name in gay marriage licenses would violate her beliefs as an Apostolic Christian.
But deputy clerk Mason said that Davis has gone beyond the permission granted her to remove her name from the license forms by also removing the name of the county.
In a court filing on Friday, Hughes said Davis also deleted the space where her deputy clerk signed his name, thus forcing Mason to place his initials as a “notary public” rather than sign his name as a deputy clerk.
“A notary has nothing to do with it,” Hughes said. “Unless she’s got a really good reason, and I’ll certainly be patient and wait to hear it, the only inference I personally can draw from it is she is trying to circumvent the court’s order.”
He added, “These alterations call into question the validity of the marriage licenses issued. Plaintiffs are exploring legal options to address these material alterations.”
There had been a debate about the validity of licenses issued without Davis’ name. However, the need to reach a compromise had compelled acceptance of the arrangement. But Kentucky’s attorney general and Governor Steve Beshear had said the licenses were valid.
According to Hughes, with the latest alterations, deputy clerk Mason is concerned that the certificates may have been rendered invalid.
Hughes wrote in the petition to the court, “Mr. Mason is concerned because he is in a difficult position that he continues to issue the licenses per the court’s order, which had some remote questionable validity. But now with these changes may in fact have some substantial questions about validity.
“It also appears to this counsel those changes were made in some attempt to circumvent the court’s orders and may have raised (sic) to the level of interference against the court’s orders.”
Attorneys for Davis have reportedly argued that Davis could continue issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples without compromising her conscience only by dissociating her office from the process and having the forms issued under the authority of Judge David Bunning.
“Mr. Mason’s concern is he does not want to be the party that is issuing invalid marriage licenses.”
According to the Daily Mail, attorneys for the gay couple whose complaint led to Davis being held in contempt of court, said “These alterations call into question the validity of the marriage licenses issued, create an unconstitutional two tier system of marriage licenses issued in Kentucky, and do not comply with this Court’s September Order prohibiting Davis from interfering with the issuance of marriage licenses.”