Former Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis Ordered to Pay $260,000 in Attorney Fees for Denying Gay Couples’ Marriage Licenses

MOREHEAD, Kentucky – Former Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has been ordered by a federal judge to pay approximately $260,000 in attorney fees and expenses to a same-sex couple she denied a marriage license to in 2015. This comes in addition to the $100,000 she was previously ordered to pay the couple in September.

The couple’s attorney, Michael Gartland of DelCotto Law Group, expressed satisfaction with the ruling. Gartland has represented the couple throughout the legal proceedings, but did not comment on the latest ruling. The $260,000 amount includes payment to his law firm.

Liberty Counsel, the religious liberty organization representing Davis, plans to request the court to reverse the jury’s verdict and claims that there was not enough evidence to award monetary damages to the plaintiffs. If the motion is denied, Liberty Counsel intends to appeal the case to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Davis gained international attention in 2015 when she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. She spent time in jail for contempt of court. Davis, an evangelical Christian, argued that issuing the licenses would contradict her religious beliefs.

Aside from David Ermold and David Moore, the couple that sued Davis, another gay couple named James Yates and Will Smith also had their rights violated by Davis. U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning ruled in 2022 that Davis had violated the rights of both couples.

Davis appealed Bunning’s decision, but the Sixth Circuit affirmed it, leading to the recent ruling on the damages. While Ermold and Moore were granted the full amount they requested for attorney fees, Yates and Smith were not awarded any damages.

Despite Liberty Counsel’s argument that there is not enough evidence to award damages, Bunning deemed the monetary request from Ermold and Moore to be reasonable. He stated that as the prevailing party in the case, the couple is entitled to an award of attorneys’ fees and expenses.

To date, Davis has been ordered to pay a total of approximately $360,000 in attorney fees and expenses to the two couples. She also lost her bid for re-election in 2018.