Kim Davis may pay $225,000 for denying gay couples marriage licences

Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk in Kentucky, arrives before US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union Address during a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 12, 2016

Kim Davis should pay $225,000 in legal fees and court costs incurred by gay couples suing her, according to an appeal lodged by Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin.

The former Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk was jailed by US District Judge David Bunning after refusing to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples in 2015, following the Supreme Court decision to legalise equal marriage across the country.

In 2017, Bunning ruled in favour of four couples—two same-sex pairs and two straight couples—who Davis denied licences, ordering that the state of Kentucky must reimburse them $225,000.

Rowan County Clerk of Courts Kim Davis stands with her attorney Mat Staver (R) and former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee (L) in front of the Carter County Detention Centre on September 8, 2015 in Grayson, Kentucky

Kim Davis with Mike Huckabee and Mat Staver, the head of the Liberty Counsel. (Ty Wright/Getty)

“Davis represented the Commonwealth of Kentucky when she refused to issue marriage licenses to legally eligible couples. The buck stops there,” the judge wrote, according to Kentucky newspaper Lexington Herald-Leader.

Governor Matt Bevin wants Kim Davis to pay the price

Despite the Republican governor repeatedly voicing his support for Davis, he has appealed the decision on the basis that she should pay the costs instead.

Ahead of the case being heard at the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on Thursday (January 31), Bevin’s lawyer, Palmer G. Vance II, filed a brief which said: “Davis had an independent and sworn duty to uphold the law as an elected county officer.

“Kim Davis is an inspiration … to my children and to the children of America.”

— Kentucky’s Republican Governor Matt Bevin

“If fees are awarded, they must be the responsibility of the Rowan County clerk’s office, which should be deterred from engaging in conduct that violates civil rights—and leads to costly litigation.”

In a video released last year, Bevin praised Davis, saying: “Amid all the vitriol, all the nastiness, she stood firm. I think it’s beyond question that Kim Davis is an inspiration.

“Not only to leaders like myself, in the public arena and those outside the public arena, but to my children and to the children of America.”

Same-sex couples who Kim Davis denied marriage licences want a resolution

American Civil Liberties Union senior staff attorney Ria Tabacco Mar, who is representing the couples, said her clients would ask for additional legal fees and court costs if the state’s appeal fails.

Mar added: “The Supreme Court ruled in the matter of marriage equality in the summer of 2015.

“Unfortunately, there were a couple of people here and there who chose to resist that decision, including Kim Davis. And here we are still fighting three and a half years later.”

Rowan County and Davis have filed briefs which state that neither of them should pay the costs.

The county has said that it could not control the actions of Davis, who was an independently elected official.

Davis, who lost her re-election bid for county clerk in November, has said that her ability to hand out marriage licences came from the state of Kentucky.