In Kentucky, Long-Awaited Marriage Licenses Could Come Friday

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Edgar Orea, right, addresses a group of same-sex marriage supporters outside the Carl D. Perkins Federal Building in Ashland, Ky., Thursday. Rowan County is set to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples Friday. (AP)
Edgar Orea, right, addresses a group of same-sex marriage supporters outside the Carl D. Perkins Federal Building in Ashland, Ky., Thursday. Rowan County is set to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples Friday. (AP)

Same-sex couples and their supporters are set to celebrate a victory Friday, when it's expected that Rowan County, Ky., officials will issue marriage licenses – something that hasn't happened since the County Clerk Kim Davis refused to go along with a shift in the law.

After Davis was found in contempt of court, a federal judge ordered her jailed and then set about finding someone at the Rowan County Courthouse who is willing to issue marriage licenses.

Nearly all of the deputy clerks said they would, reports member station WFPL:

"Five of six Rowan County Deputy Clerks told U.S. District Judge David Bunning they were willing to issue marriage licenses despite Clerk Kim Davis' continued refusal to do so. Davis' son, Nathan, told the judge he was not willing to issue licenses."

Earlier Thursday, Bunning decided that if Davis were to be fined, as the plaintiffs in the contempt of court motion had sought, people who support her holdout over the Supreme Court's June ruling might seek to pay whatever penalties she incurs. So Bunning ordered the clerk held in jail.

When Davis was in court, WFPL's Ryland Barton reports on today's All Things Considered, Bunning told her, "Here in the United States, we expect at the end of the day for the court's orders to be complied with. This is the way things work in America."

The issue has put a spotlight on Kentucky's laws; Gov. Steve Beshear said earlier this week that he is powerless to intervene, because the statute gives sole authority over marriage licenses to county clerks. Beshear also said that while the state legislature might take up the issue when it convenes this fall, he won't call a special session to hurry that process.

"The future of the Rowan County Clerk continues to be a matter between her and the courts," Beshear said today. "Deputy clerks have said they will commence issuing marriage licenses beginning tomorrow. It appears that the citizens of Rowan County will now have access to all the services from the clerk's office to which they are entitled."

With the change, same-sex couples in Kentucky who have been denied the right to marry even after that right was recognized in June are planning to finally be united legally.

The plaintiffs say they're ready for a new milestone. From the Courier-Journal:

" 'We are saddened by the fact that Mrs. Davis has been incarcerated,' said April Miller, who is seeking to wed her long-term partner, Karen Roberts. 'We look forward to tomorrow. As a couple, it will be a very important day in our lives.' "

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Copyright NPR. View this article on npr.org.