Same-sex couple can seek damages from Kentucky clerk: US appeals court

A SEPT. 14 2015 FILE

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis makes a statement to the media in 2015

A federal appeals court on Tuesday revived a damages lawsuit against Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who in 2015 refused to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples because it conflicted with her Christian beliefs. But the Sixth Circuit Court reversed that decision, saying that the policy change doesn't eliminate the harm Davis caused the couples, the Lexington Herald Leader reports.

"The district court's characterization of this case as simply contesting the "no marriage licenses" policy is inaccurate because Ermold and Moore did not seek an injunction-they sought only damages".

On Tuesday, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati said a lower court judge erred in finding that damages claims by David Ermold and David Moore (right) became moot following the administrative work-around.

While that controversy may have faded from the minds of many Americans, WKYT reports that a judge's new ruling "basically sets the clock back two years, pretty much putting [Davis and the couple] back at the beginning of this case".

In June 2015 - shortly after Davis was elected to serve as Rowan County Clerk - the U.S. Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage to be constitutional nationwide. They ruled Ermold and Moore are entitled to have their case heard and any potential damages assessed.

In non-legalese, this means that because the couple were suing for "compensatory and punitive damages" - in other words, money - to be awarded for the harm they experienced being denied the license, it could move forward.

In 2015, Davis refused to grant marriage licences to same-sex couples despite a recent federal SCOTUS ruling guaranteeing same-sex couples the right to seek and obtain these licenses.

Moore concluded, "The record does not support an argument that appellants' damages claims are insubstantial or otherwise foreclosed".

Days later, Ermold and Moore - who filmed their repeated attempts to get a license from Davis - filed a lawsuit against Davis.

Michael J. Gartland, attorney for the couple, expressed confidence in the couple's chances.

"Do I think it's a million dollar case?" She even did a stint in jail for contempt-of-court, a time which she called "peaceful".

"We're going to get damages, I'm sure of that", Gartland said Tuesday.

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