Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, who said he “absolutely supported” county clerk Kim Davis in not issuing marriage licenses because of her opposition to gay marriage, has left her on her own to pay the legal fees of the couples who sued her, The Associated Press reports.
A Kentucky court ordered Davis to pay more than $222,000 in legal fees for the gay and straight couples who sued after she stopped issuing all marriage licenses after the Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide.
Despite seeking her support during his gubernatorial run in 2015, lawyers for Bevin now say that Davis broke the law and taxpayers “should not have to collectively bear the financial responsibility for Davis’ intransigence.”
“Only Davis refused to comply with the law as was her obligation and as required by the oath of office she took,” Bevin attorney Palmer G. Vance II wrote in a court filing.
Bevin and Davis’ lawyers both asked the court not to award legal fees to the couples but now that it has their legal teams are facing off in court over who should foot the bill.
Davis lost her re-election in November to Democrat Elwood Caudill Jr.
Bevin tries to distance himself:
Another Bevin lawyer, Steve Pitt, insisted that the lawyers representing the governor were not speaking for the governor.
“Governor Bevin does not believe that she has done so and continues to support Ms. Davis’s actions,” Pitt told The Associated Press. “Our outside counsel have only argued, given the court’s ruling, that if constitutional rights were violated, the taxpayers of Kentucky are not responsible to pay the ACLU’s attorney fees.”
Davis’ attorney Mat Staver said he does not blame Bevin for the lawyers’ arguments.
″(Bevin) led the charge on that religious liberty accommodation, which is what we asked for from the very beginning,” Staver said.
Who is Kim Davis?:
In 2015, Davis, a devout Apostolic Christian, argued that gay marriage was against her religious beliefs. Because the Supreme Court legalized all same-sex marriage nationwide, Davis refused to stop issuing all marriage licenses at the Rowan County Clerk’s Office.
The ACLU joined with numerous gay and straight couples in suing Davis and she was ordered to start issuing licenses again. She refused, and a judge ordered her to be jailed for five days for contempt.
The case was finally resolved when the state legislature voted to remove the names of county clerks from marriage licenses.
In 2017, a judge ruled that Kentucky taxpayers should pay for the legal fees because Davis was acting as an agent of the state. Bevin’s attorneys have argued that no one should have to pay those legal fees but definitely not the state government.