ACLU of Kentucky

Class Action Suit Filed Against Rowan County, Clerk for Marriage License Refusals

Lawsuit says denial of marriage licenses to same gender and opposite gender couples unconstitutional

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky filed a lawsuit July 2, 2015 on behalf of four Rowan County couples, two same-gender couples and two opposite-gender couples, denied marriage licenses by County Clerk Kim Davis. Since the U.S. Supreme Court issued a sweeping and historic decision that affords gay and lesbian couples the legal right to marry, Ms. Davis has refused to provide marriage licenses to any couple applying for one in Rowan County citing “religious concerns.”

In explaining the ACLU’s decision to file suit on the couples’ behalf, ACLU of Kentucky Cooperating Attorney Laura Landenwich stated, “Ms. Davis has the absolute right to believe whatever she wants about God, faith, and religion, but as a government official who swore an oath to uphold the law, she cannot pick and choose who she is going to serve, or which duties her office will perform based on her religious beliefs.”

The couples named in the suit are April Miller & Karen Roberts, Shantel Burke & Stephen Napier, Jody Fernandez & Kevin Holloway, and L. Aaron Skaggs & Barry W. Spartman.

In explaining why obtaining a marriage license in Rowan County, as opposed to a neighboring county is important, Plaintiff Aaron Skaggs stated, “We have been citizens of Rowan County since the beginning of our relationship and love being members of this community.   So, it only makes sense that we would want and should be granted our right to be recognized as a loving couple having freedom to marry here at home.”

Commenting on the suit, the ACLU of Kentucky Executive Director Michael Aldridge stated, “When our laws are updated or changed, government officials have a duty and a responsibility to impartially administer those laws.”

ACLU of Kentucky Cooperating Attorneys Dan Canon, Laura Landenwich, and Joe Dunman of Clay Daniel Walton & Adams PLC of Louisville and ACLU of Kentucky Legal Director William E. Sharp represent the couples.