Kim Davis Defies Judge's Order

Photo by Jessica Ebelhar for The New York Times

MOREHEAD, Ky. — Nearly two months after the Supreme Court declared a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, a county clerk’s office here — in defiance of a federal court order — turned away two gay couples seeking marriage licenses on Thursday, taking a stand that has infuriated gay rights advocates but buoyed Christian conservatives who insist their religious freedoms are being violated.

Kim Davis, the clerk in Rowan County, who says her Christian faith bars her from authorizing same-sex marriages, has refused to issue any licenses, either to same-sex or heterosexual couples. Her actions come in the wake of the historic ruling in June in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, despite a direct order from Gov. Steven L. Beshear, that she do so.

On Wednesday, Judge David L. Bunning of the United States District Court of Eastern Kentucky, ruling in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of four couples — two same-sex and two heterosexual — ordered Ms. Davis to resume issuing licenses. But lawyers for Ms. Davis immediately appealed, and Thursday morning, Ms. Davis did not show up at work.

“People are cruel, and this is wrong,” said David Ermold, 41, who with his partner, David Moore, 39, went to the clerk’s office here, where they were told that no licenses would be issued today. Roberta Early, a deputy clerk, said the matter was “still under litigation, and nothing has changed, and we still can’t issue them.”

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