Former Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (Ty Wright/Getty)
An appeals court ruled yesterday (August 23) that the state of Kentucky must pay the $225,00 legal bills of the same-sex couples that Kim Davis, the anti-gay Kentucky county clerk, refused to issue marriage licences to.
Davis was jailed for several days for contempt of court 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 couples and two opposite-sex couples – ordering that the state of Kentucky must reimburse them $225,000 for their legal fees.
Bunning also ruled that the state of Kentucky must pay the fees because he said that Davis was acting in her official capacity when she ignored court orders and refused to issue the marriage licences to the same-sex couples.
Kentucky governor Matt Bevin said Kim Davis acted independently, despite supporting her views
In January this year, however, republican Kentucky governor Matt Bevin argued that Davis should be responsible for the fees, despite the fact that he had voiced support for her views.
Bevin’s lawyer said previously: “Davis had an independent and sworn duty to uphold the law as an elected county officer.”
According to USA Today, a three-judge panel for the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld Bunning’s decision on Friday and maintained that the state must pay the fees.
The couples who were denied their marriage licenses were by represented The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which said that the decision would act as a warning to state officials in the future.
The ACLU told USA Today in a statement: “By affirming the sizeable fee award, the Court also sent a strong message to other government officials in Kentucky that it is not only unconstitutional to use public office to impose one’s personal religious views on others, but that it also can be a very expensive mistake.”