Historic day in Rowan County: Marriage licenses finally issued t - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Historic day in Rowan County: Marriage licenses finally issued to same-sex couples

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After 6 tries, James Yates & William Smith became the first gay couple to receive a marriage license in Rowan County, Ky. After 6 tries, James Yates & William Smith became the first gay couple to receive a marriage license in Rowan County, Ky.
Deputy clerk Brian Mason issued the license Friday morning, congratulating the couple and shaking their hands as he smiled. The couple embraced and cried. Deputy clerk Brian Mason issued the license Friday morning, congratulating the couple and shaking their hands as he smiled. The couple embraced and cried.
James Yates and William Smith left the courthouse with a marriage license as crowds of supporters cheered. James Yates and William Smith left the courthouse with a marriage license as crowds of supporters cheered.
Joe Davis, the husband of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, says his wife "won't be bullied." Joe Davis, the husband of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, says his wife "won't be bullied."

MOREHEAD, Ky. (WDRB) -- A same-sex couple from Rowan County was among the first to finally obtain a marriage license on Friday, one day after the county clerk was sent to jail by a federal judge for failing to issue the licenses.

After six attempts, William Smith Jr. and James Yates, a couple for nearly a decade, were the first to receive a marriage license Friday morning in Rowan County, ending a months-long standoff.

Brian Mason, a deputy clerk who issued the license, followed through on a promise to U.S. District Judge David Bunning to issue the license regardless of Rowan County Circuit Court Clerk Kim Davis, who has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Yates and Smith arrived with their families shortly after 8 a.m. (along with hordes of local and national media). They approached the counter and Mason asked to see their drivers licenses. They took took them out and handed to Mason, which officially marked the furthest the couple had gotten to receiving a marriage license since June.

Mason asked several questions, the couple paid $35.50 in cash and then Mason handed the marriage license to the couple in an envelope, shook their hands and smiled. The couple embraced and cried and then walked out of the courthouse holding hands as crowds of supporters cheered, drowning out the shouts of those who oppose gay marriage and others who gathered to support Davis. 

About an hour later, Michael Long and Timothy Long became the second gay couple to get a marriage license in Rowan County. 

By the end of the day, six same-sex couples and two heterosexual couples had obtained marriage licenses from Mason, who declined to give any comment. The licenses did not have Kim Davis' name or signature on them and Mason couldn't guarantee they were legal.

Kim Davis was found in contempt and ordered to jail on Sept. 3 for refusing to issue the licenses despite Bunning's order to do so. 

Bunning also granted a motion filed by the ACLU to clarify that marriage licenses must be issued to all eligible couples in Rowan County, not just the four named couples in this case.

In holding Davis in civil contempt of court, Bunning decided that financial sanctions were insufficient to induce her compliance with the court’s order and remanded her to custody of the U.S. Marshals.

Five of the six deputy clerks for Rowan County agreed under oath to begin issuing marriage licenses to all eligible couples immediately. 

The lone holdout is Kim Davis's son, Nathan Davis, who will not face jail time or contempt charges as long as the other deputy clerks issue licenses. 

With same-sex couples expected to show up for marriage licenses on Friday, the first person to arrive at the Rowan County Courthouse was Joe Davis -- the husband of Kim Davis.

Shortly after 6 a.m. Friday morning, Joe Davis stood in front of door, chanting "Governor do your job or resign." 

Joe Davis told WDRB's Toni Konz he was in court with his wife on Thursday, but did not see her as she was being led away in handcuffs. He says he has spoken with her but has not seen her, because visiting days at the Carter County jail are Wednesdays and Sundays. 

When asked how long Kim Davis is prepared to stay in jail, Joe Davis replied: "As long as it takes. She will not be bullied." He says she is in good spirits and doing OK. 

Joe Davis also says he's a registered Democrat, but he will never vote Democrat again.

He says former Arkansas governor (and Republican presidential candidate) Mike Huckabee personally called Kim on her cell phone to support her, and says Huckabee will be coming to Kentucky on Tuesday. 

Joe Davis says Kim Davis has no plans to resign, and their son, Nathan Davis, will not issue any marriage licenses, but will not stand in the way of others.

"Bunning cannot bully me, my wife or my son," Joe Davis said. "I taught my son how to stand up for what's right and what he believes in at any cost. Bunning doesn't know how to pick on somebody that can handle him. The only thing he knows how to do is to pick up on the weak people."

"So therefore, I'm not weak, I'm strong. I would defy him -- I'd defy our government. We have no government in the United States anymore, none whatsoever." 

Davis says If necessary,he and his son, Nathan, are prepared to go jail. He also says the family has received death threats. 

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