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Joyous scenes - and insults - as gay couples get marriage licences

One man harassed a couple, saying: “More sodomites getting married?” He was asked to leave the building.

James Yates, William Smith Jr. James Yates and William Smith Jr AP AP

A GAY COUPLE emerged from a Kentucky county clerk’s office with a marriage licence this morning, embracing and crying as the defiant clerk who runs the office remained jailed for her refusal to issue the licenses because she opposed same-sex marriage.

William Smith Jr and James Yates, a couple for nearly a decade, were the first to receive a marriage licence in Rowan County. Deputy clerk Brian Mason issued the license, congratulating the couple and shaking their hands as he smiled. After they paid the license fee of $35.50 (€32), Yates rushed across the steps of the courthouse to hug his mother as both cried.

“This means at least for this area that civil rights are civil rights and they are not subject to belief,” said Yates, who had been denied a license five times previously.

A crowd of supporters cheered as the couple left, while a street preacher rained down words of condemnation. Yates and Smith said they are trying to choose between two wedding dates and plan a small ceremony at the home of Yates’ parents.

James Yates, William Smith Jr., Brian Mason AP AP

The licences were issued only after five of Kim Davis’ deputy clerks agreed to hand them out, the lone holdout from the office being her son, Nathan Davis. Her office was dark this morning, with a sheriff’s deputy standing guard in front of it.

“I just want the licences given out. I don’t want her in jail. No one wanted her in jail,” Yates said.

“More sodomites getting married?”

A second couple, Timothy and Michael Long, also were issued a licence about an hour after Yates and Smith. When the couple got inside the office, a man harassed them and said, “More sodomites getting married?” The Longs did not respond and a worker told the man to leave.

During a hearing Thursday, US District Judge David Bunning had offered to release Davis if she promised not to interfere with her employees issuing licences, but she refused, citing her Christian beliefs.

Speaking to reporters this morning, Davis’ husband, Joe Davis, held a sign saying ‘Welcome to Sodom and Gomorrah’ and said his wife was in good spirits after her first night in jail.

CORRECTION Gay Marriage Kentucky Joe Davis AP AP

When asked if she would resign, he said, “Oh, God no. She’s not going to resign at all. It’s a matter of telling Bunning he ain’t the boss.”

Kim and Joe Davis still support her employees, who he called “good people” and “good workers”. He said he ate with the other deputy clerks yesterday and told them “I loved them and I was proud of them.”

Davis’ son supported his mother and was warned by the judge yesterday not to interfere with his fellow employees. The judge said he did not want “any shenanigans”, like the staff closing the office for computer upgrades as they did briefly last week.

“That would show a level of disrespect for the court’s order,” Bunning said. He added: “I’m hoping that cooler heads will prevail.”

The marriage licences in the county usually have Davis’ signature on them, but the ones handed out Friday did not have any signature. The county attorney and lawyers for the gay couples said they are legal and valid despite the lack of a signature.

Bunning was asked during Thursday’s hearing about the licences if Davis refused to authorise them, and he said it was up to the gay couples to take that chance.

At least a week in jail

The judge indicated Kim Davis would remain in jail at least a week, saying he would revisit his decision after the deputy clerks have had time to comply with his order. Her attorneys have planned a news conference for later today.

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said he would visit Davis in jail next week and planned a rally to support her.

Gay Marriage Kentucky Kim Davis AP AP

Davis said she hopes the Legislature will change Kentucky laws to find some way for her to keep her job while following her conscience. But Democratic Governor Steve Beshear again refused to call a special session of the legislature. State lawmakers will not meet until January.

Davis, an Apostolic Christian, wept during her testimony in federal court yesterday, telling the judge she was “always a good person” but that she gave her heart to the Lord in 2011 and “promised to love Him with all my heart, mind and soul because I wanted to make heaven my home”.

“God’s moral law conflicts with my job duties,” Davis told the judge before she was taken away by a US marshal. “You can’t be separated from something that’s in your heart and in your soul.”

Read: Clerk jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licences

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