Kim Davis Wants to Avoid Paying Same-Sex Couples’ Legal Fees

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Couples who sued county clerk Kim Davis last year in order to get their marriage licenses have asked U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning to award them $233,058 in legal fees and costs.

Following the Supreme Court’s ruling to legalize same-sex marriage, Davis made national headlines for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Rowan County, Kentucky.

Her noncompliance forced several same-sex couples to sue her. The cases went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Davis lost every single step along the way. She additionally spent five days in jail on contempt charges. Her only win came from the Kentucky legislature’s decision in April to remove county clerks’ names from marriage licenses, which is what she wanted after citing religious objections to same-sex marriage.

In August, the judge dismissed the couples’ cases against her on grounds that the matter had been resolved by the action in the legislature. However, lawyers for the couples argued that Davis still refused to do her job as county clerk when she went against the Supreme Court’s ruling, forcing them to then sue her in order to obtain those licenses.

Davis’ legal team is requesting that the judge deny the couples’ requests for legal fees. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Roger K. Gannam of Liberty Counsel–the religious advocacy group that is representing Davis–filed  a response on behalf of Davis Monday. He wrote that since the couples that filed against Davis did not prevail in their cases, they have no grounds to make someone else pay their legal fees.

Similarly, Rowan County filed its own response that stated the county government should not be told to pay any of the fees because Davis was acting individually– in her public official capacity–and not on behalf of the county.

“County clerks are not employees of the county, but instead are the holders of elective office pursuant to the Kentucky Constitution,” wrote  Rowan County attorney Jeffrey C. Mando.

William Sharp, legal director of the Kentucky ACLU and one of the lawyers for the couple, said in a statement:

Courts recognize that when successful civil rights plaintiffs obtain a direct benefit from a court-ordered victory, such as in this case, they can be entitled to their legal expenses to deter future civil rights violations by government officials.

Additionally, if Davis and her legal team are forced to pay the bills, they won’t be able to use popular crowdfunding site GoFundMe, after it changed its policies to prevent fundraising for “campaigns in defense of formal charges or claims of heinous crimes, violent, hateful, sexual or discriminatory acts.”

Whatever Davis decides to do next, it will probably continue to stir up controversy that keeps her in the public’s eye.

Julia Bryant
Julia Bryant is an Editorial Senior Fellow at Law Street from Howard County, Maryland. She is a junior at the University of Maryland, College Park, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Economics. You can contact Julia at



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