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First Gay Couple Granted Marriage License in Rowan County; Davis Remains Jailed

Love wins yet again in another historic legal advancement for the LBGTQ community: the county clerk’s office in Morehead, Kentucky, just granted a marriage license to a same-sex couple — while the clerk herself, Kim Davis, remains in jail after being ordered by a federal judge to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling that all couples, regardless of sexual orientation or gender, should be allowed the right to marry.

James Yates, 41, and William Smith Jr., 33, walked into Rowan County Courthouse on Friday morning just after 8 a.m., through throngs of protesters, the New York Times reported.

Supporters of Davis yelled Bible passages at the couple, while Davis’s husband, Joe, reportedly held up a sign reading “Welcome to Sodom and Gomorrah.” The protesters have conveniently ignored the fact that even before the LBGTQ marriage equality legislation was passed, one divorce occurs approximately every 13 seconds between heterosexual couples in the U.S.

Davis was jailed on Thursday after telling federal court Judge David L. Benning that she refused to provide same-sex couples with marriage licenses. She remained jailed Friday morning as one of her employees handed over the highly-anticipated marriage license to Yates and Smith.

Judge Benning ordered five of the six deputy clerks in the Rowan County office to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, and the Washington Post reported that five of the deputy clerks agreed, under oath, to do so.

Davis refused to provide marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples because, she argued, gay marriage goes against her Apostolic Christian beliefs. While she didn’t object to couples obtaining marriage licenses in other counties throughout the state, according to the Wall Street Journal, she explained that it would violate her religious freedom to provide the licenses herself.

Jonathan Christman, one of Davis’s attorneys, stated that it would be “factually impossible” for Davis to grant gay couples marriage licenses.

After Davis had been jailed, her husband stated that she planned on staying in jail “as long as it takes” until she could be granted the right to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“Just because five Supreme Court judges make a ruling, it’s not a law,” Joe Davis said.

As for Yates and Smith, the couple embraced and shed a few joyous tears as the cameras caught the moment on tape. The couple had been turned away from Davis’s office five times since the Supreme Court declared this past June that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry.

A county official who presented Yates and Smith with their license shook hands with the men and congratulated them.

“Today, the needless wait for loving and committed couples in Rowan County, Kentucky, has finally ended,” said Human Rights Campaign legal director Sarah Warbelow. “Denied a constitutionally protected right to marriage by a public official who thought her religious opinion placed her above the law, these couples waited far too long for marriage equality in the place they call home. Justice, equality, and the law have finally prevailed.”

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