FRANKFORT, Ky. — The federal judge who once ordered Kim Davis to be placed behind bars because of her refusal to issue to homosexuals marriage licenses bearing her name, has now dismissed the outstanding lawsuits against the clerk since licenses are now being issued.
“In light of these proceedings, and in view of the fact that the marriage licenses continue to be issued without incident, there no longer remains a case or controversy before the court,” wrote U.S. District Judge David Bunning on Thursday.
As previously reported, Davis had been in national headlines last year after she declined to issue same-sex “marriage” licenses as long as her name was on the documents. Davis, who attends a Oneness Apostolic Pentecostal assembly, said that she would do so if her name was removed from the licenses.
Her refusal soon led to three lawsuits—Miller v. Davis, Ermold v. Davis and Yates v. Davis—filed by homosexuals who sought to force Davis to issue the licenses.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) led the legal push, and in September, U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered that Davis issue the licenses despite her religious identity. As she continued to refuse to issue the licenses without the accommodation, Bunning ordered that Davis be placed behind bars until she was willing to comply. In the meantime, the judge arranged for a deputy clerk to sign the licenses in her absence.
Davis was released from the Carter County Jail five days later after her attorneys filed an appeal of the contempt order, and also because Bunning was satisfied that her deputy clerks were providing the licenses instead. He stipulated her release on the condition that she not interfere with her deputies.
By the end of the year, new Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin issued an executive order for the Department for Libraries and Archives to release new licenses that do not cite the county or the name of the county clerk. Months later, the state legislature passed a law altering the licenses similar to Bevin’s order.
On Thursday, Bunning noted that since licenses are no longer being denied and the law now grants Davis her wish to have her name removed from the documents, both sides have now been accommodated.
“Kim Davis has won! We celebrate this victory for her and for every American,” Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, which represented Davis in court, said in a statement. “County clerks are now able to perform their public service without being forced to compromise their religious liberty. The case is now closed and the door has been shut on the ACLU’s attempt to assess damages against Kim Davis. ”
However, some had expressed disappointment with Davis for being willing to provide the licenses as long as her name was removed from the document.
“We’re still allowing the evil to continue, and it totally nullifies the interposition of the lesser magistrate in abating the just judgment of God,” Matt Trewhella, pastor of Mercy Seat Christian Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and author of “The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate,” told Christian News Network last year.
“It’s extremely important for people to understand that the interposition of the lesser magistrate abates the just judgment of God,” he said, “but with the path they’re taking in Kentucky, it will not.”