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Clerk who withheld same-sex licenses freed

07 December 2017

David Ermold and his now-husband, David Moore, eventually filed a lawsuit against Davis "Individually and in her Official Capacity as Rowan County Clerk".

Among those who were denied a license was Ermold and his partner of more than 15 years, David Moore.

Kim Davis, county clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, first made headlines in the summer of 2015 when she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite the Supreme Court's then-new Obergefell v. Hodges ruling saying that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry due to the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses.

The county clerk in rural Kentucky who went to jail rather than give marriage licenses to gay people is facing a re-election challenge from one of the gay men she tried to prevent from marrying.

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Davis, who said providing the license violated her religious beliefs, continued to withhold the license, even after a federal judge ordered her to issue it, and was jailed briefly. She stopped issuing marriage licenses, which is the clerk's main job, after same-sex marriage was legalized. Davis denied his marriage license in 2015.

"The county clerk's office has been in the hands of the same family for nearly 35 years", Ernold said.

The man announced his candidacy as a Democrat to unseat her in 2018. The others are James L. Jessee, Elwood Caudill and Nashia Fife, according to the Kentucky Office of the Secretary of State.

"She loves her job and she loves the people", said Mat Staver, founder of the Florida-based law firm Liberty Counsel that has represented Davis, told the Associated Press last month. She has been County Clerk since 2014, although she worked for her mother, who was also clerk, before being elected to the position.

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On Wednesday, Ermold filed in Morehead, the county seat, to run for the position - to "restore the confidence of the people" in the office.

"I was very disappointed in the presidential election, and I think there needs to be more integrity", he said. "It should not be something that's handed down from mother to daughter and from daughter to son".

In the two years since then, things have quieted down in this Appalachian town previously known for a college basketball team at Morehead State University that occasionally qualifies for the NCAA tournament. He has two master's degrees, one in English and the other in communications, and teaches English at the University of Pikeville. He said he is exhausted of the "divide and conquer" style of politics that has come to dominate most elections, where candidates purposefully take stances to energize some voters while angering everyone else.

Going to Romania, he said, "she's just dragging our people through the mud over and over again", he said. He wants to tell people who have been discriminated against, as he has, that there is room to succeed.

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Clerk who withheld same-sex licenses freed