US & Canada

Kim Davis case: Kentucky clerk faces new legal challenge

Rowan County clerk Kim Davis (left) walks through the halls of the courthouse on her first day back to work, after being released from jail last week, at the Rowan County Courthouse 14 September 2015 in Morehead, Kentucky. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ms Davis said she is prepared to return to jail

Four couples have asked a US judge to order Kentucky clerk Kim Davis to reissue their marriage licences after she altered them to remove her name.

Ms Davis, an elected official, opposes gay marriage and has said that her Christian faith should exempt her from signing those licences.

She was jailed after she repeatedly refused to issue licences to gay couples, defying court orders.

The US Supreme Court declared gay marriage legal in June.

Ms Davis, a Democrat who serves Rowan County, a rural area in eastern Kentucky, was released under the condition that she would not interfere as her deputy clerks issued marriage licences.

However, once she returned to work Ms Davis removed her name from the licences and replaced it with the phrase "pursuant to federal court order".

Lawyers for the couples - two straight and two gay - questioned whether the altered licences are valid and said they "effectively feature a stamp of animus against the LGBT community".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ms Davis' deputy clerks have been issuing marriage licences

The lawyers wrote that Ms Davis actions signal that: "the government's position is that LGBT couples are second-class citizens unworthy of official recognition and authorization of their marriage licenses but for this court's intervention and order".

The lawyers have suggested that the judge place the clerk's office in receivership so someone else would issue the licences.

Ms Davis' lawyer Mat Staver team disagreed with the couple's court filing and said matter has been resolved.

"Kim Davis has made a good-faith effort to comply with the court's order,'' Mr Staver said.

Ms Davis told ABC News on Tuesday she was prepared to return to jail if the judge ordered to stop altering the licences.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ms Davis' cause has been championed by several Republican candidates for president

She said the licences are "not valid in God's eyes," but she disagreed with those who have called her homophobic.

"I have never once spouted a word of hate. I have not been hateful," Ms Davis told ABC News on Tuesday.

Ms Davis has become a heroine among conservative Christians who view marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Her case has also become an issue in the Republican presidential campaign with several candidates - including former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Texas Senator Ted Cruz - championing her cause.

Because Ms Davis is an elected official, she cannot be fired. She could be impeached by the Kentucky legislature, but the body is not in session.

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