- Associated Press - Friday, September 4, 2015

MOREHEAD, Ky. (AP) — A gay couple emerged from a Kentucky county clerk’s office with a marriage license in hand Friday morning, embracing and crying as the defiant clerk who runs the office remained jailed for her refusal to issue the licenses because she opposed same-sex marriage.

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.

Deputy clerk Brian Mason issued the license, congratulating the couple and shaking their hands as he smiled. After they paid the license fee of $35.50, James Yates rushed across the steps of the courthouse to hug his mom as both cried.


SEE ALSO: Kim Davis, Kentucky clerk, jailed for not issuing marriage licenses to gay couples


“This means at least for this area that civil rights are civil rights and they are not subject to belief,” said Mr. Yates, who had been denied a license five times previously. He said he and Mr. Smith were optimistic they would get a license when they arrived, in part because the deputy clerk, Mr. Mason, had always been respectful when they came previously.

A crowd of supporters cheered outside as the couple left, while a street preacher rained down words of condemnation. Mr. Yates and Mr. Smith said they are trying to choose between two wedding dates and plan a small ceremony at the home of Yates’ parents.



Mat Staver and other attorneys with Liberty Counsel met with Ms. Davis Friday at the jail house in Grayson, KY.

PHOTOS: Gay couples will try to wed as defiant clerk sits in jail


“Five people on the Supreme Court imposed their will on 320 million Americans and unleashed a torrent of assaults against people of faith. Kim Davis is the first victim of this tragedy,” Mr. Staver said, likening Ms. Davis to other historical figures who refused to violate their consciences and faith in the face of certain government-enforced laws.
He said Ms. Davis “is in good spirits … Her opening and closing comment was, All is well.’” 
A rally called “I’m with Kim” is planned for Tuesday at the Carter County Detention Center. It is being organized by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a presidential candidate, said Liberty Counsel, which added that pastors have already been notifying organizers that they are sending buses of supporters to the rally  .

In Rowan County Friday, marriage licenses were issued after all but one deputy clerks agreed to issue the licenses; the lone holdout was Ms. Davis‘ son, Nathan Davis.

Her office was dark Friday morning as the license was issued to Mr. Yates and Mr. Smith, with a sheriff’s deputy standing guard in front of it.

“I just want the licenses given out. I don’t want her in jail. No one wanted her in jail,” Mr. Yates said.

During a hearing Thursday, U.S. District Judge David Bunning had offered to release Ms. Davis if she promised not to interfere with her employees issuing licenses, but she refused, citing her Christian beliefs.

Speaking to reporters Friday morning, Ms. Davis‘ husband, Joe Davis, held a sign saying “Welcome to Sodom and Gomorrah” and said his wife was in good spirits after her first night in jail.

When asked if she would resign, he said, “Oh, God no. She’s not going to resign at all. It’s a matter of telling Bunning he ain’t the boss.”

Mr. Davis said he and his wife support her employees, whom he called “good people” and “good workers.” He said he ate with the other deputy clerks on Thursday at an Applebee’s restaurant and told them “I loved them and I was proud of them.”

Ms. Davis‘ son supported his mother and was warned by the judge Thursday not to interfere with his fellow employees. The judge said he did not want “any shenanigans,” like the staff closing the office for computer upgrades as they did briefly last week.

“That would show a level of disrespect for the court’s order,” Judge Bunning said. He added: “I’m hoping that cooler heads will prevail.”

Ms. Davis‘ son sat stoically as the judge questioned the clerks Thursday, some of whom were reluctant.

“I don’t really want to, but I will comply with the law,” deputy clerk Melissa Thompson said, weeping while she stood before the packed courtroom. “I’m a preacher’s daughter and this is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.”

“I don’t hate anybody,” she added. “None of us do.”

Judge Bunning indicated Ms. Davis would remain in jail at least a week, saying he would revisit his decision after the deputy clerks have had time to comply with his order.

Ms. Davis said she hopes the Legislature will change Kentucky laws to find some way for her to keep her job while following her conscience. But Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear again refused to call a special session of the legislature on Thursday. State lawmakers will not meet until January.

Ms. Davis, an Apostolic Christian, wept during her testimony in federal court Thursday, telling the judge she was “always a good person” but that she gave her heart to the Lord in 2011 and “promised to love Him with all my heart, mind and soul because I wanted to make heaven my home.”

“God’s moral law conflicts with my job duties,” Ms. Davis told the judge before she was taken away by a U.S. marshal. “You can’t be separated from something that’s in your heart and in your soul.”

___

Associated Press writer Claire Galofaro in Louisville, Kentucky, contributed to this report.

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