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In this Nov. 6, 2018, file photo, Kim Davis, the county clerk for Rowan County in Kentucky, works with the county election board on Election Day, in Morehead, Ky. (AP Photo/John Flavell, File)

Former KY Clerk Kim Davis to Appeal Jury's $100K Verdict in Religious Rights vs. Gay Rights Battle


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Two juries announced conflicting decisions last week in separate civil trials against former Rowan County, Kentucky, Clerk Kim Davis.

Davis gained international attention in August 2015 when she defied a federal court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. 

Both of the lawsuits involved two different same-sex couples who sued Davis later that year following the Supreme Court's Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legalized "same-sex marriage" in the U.S. 

Davis refused to personally issue the two homosexual couples a marriage license based on her belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman. She spent five days in jail after being found in contempt of court after she refused to sign the couples' licenses, according to The New York Post. She was released after her staffers issued the licenses without her signature. 

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Davis, 58, is represented in both cases by attorneys with the Liberty Counsel, a Christian religious rights law firm. 

In the trial before U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning, the jury in Yates v. Davis returned a verdict of zero damages against Davis. The plaintiffs originally asked for $300,000 in damages. The jury deliberated for about 45 minutes before returning the verdict. 

However, in the second case of Ermold v. Davis, the jury awarded $100,000 in damages ($50,000 each) to David Ermold and David Moore, despite hearing the same evidence and the same arguments the first jury heard. 

Ermold and Moore's co-counsel, Joe Buckles, told NPR he was "thrilled' by the jury's decision and that his clients had been "completely vindicated."

"The Supreme Court says that my clients have a constitutional right to marry under the 14th Amendment," said Buckles. "But this case isn't really about {Davis's} religion. The case isn't really about our client's right to marry. The case is about a government official that just refused to do her job. It's a pretty simple case."

The Liberty Counsel said it would appeal the case to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing the jury had no basis or evidence to support its verdict. The leader of the nonprofit law firm said a path has now been paved for this case to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"We look forward to appealing this decision for Kim Davis. We will argue religious accommodation under the First Amendment, and other state and federal laws. We will also argue that Obergefell v. Hodges was wrongly decided and should be overturned. Yesterday's jury verdict has paved the way for this case to go to the U.S. Supreme Court," Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said in a press release. 

Liberty argues that Davis is not liable for any damages because she was entitled to a religious accommodation from issuing marriage licenses under her name and authority that conflict with her religious beliefs. When the newly elected Republican Governor Matt Bevin took office in December 2015, he granted religious accommodation to all clerks by Executive Order. 

Then in April 2016, the Kentucky legislature unanimously granted religious and conscience accommodation to all clerks from issuing marriage licenses that conflict with their religious beliefs, the law firm said. 

Davis was voted out of office in 2018. 

Then in 2019, a three-judge panel of the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that Davis could be sued for her actions as a public official. 

Liberty Counsel argues Davis was entitled to an accommodation of her sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage under both the First Amendment and Kentucky law and she should not be held liable for requesting an accommodation, which she did receive in December 2015.

The plaintiffs suffered no damages because they could have obtained marriage licenses from any nearby clerk's office, the law firm said. 

In a December 2015 interview, David Ermold and David Moore told GQ Magazine they had never even discussed getting married until they saw a social media post announcing a protest at Davis' Rowan County, KY, clerk's office. The two men would go to Davis' office on five separate occasions to confront her with their cameras recording videos that were later posted to social media, according to Liberty Counsel. 

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of