Kentucky clerk opposed to gay marriage fights attempts to recoup legal fees
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Kim Davis addresses the media just before the doors are opened to the Rowan County Clerk's Office in Morehead, Kentucky, September 14, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Tilley
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By Steve Bittenbender
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Reuters) - A Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples is fighting efforts to force her to pay the more than $230,000 in legal costs faced by those who sued her.
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis spent five days in jail in September 2015 after refusing to issue marriage licenses after the Supreme Court's decision legalizing same-sex marriage. Davis claimed same-sex marriage went against her Apostolic Christian beliefs.
The case drew international attention and hundreds of demonstrators on both sides of the issue to her office in the rural eastern part of the state last year.
Lawyers for Davis in a filing on Monday with the U.S. District Court opposed efforts to make her pay $233,058 in legal fees of the couples who had sued.
Since the couples received only an injunction against Davis, that was not enough to warrant her paying their legal fees, Roger Gannam, a lawyer representing Davis, said in the response to Judge David Bunning.
Gannam, who works for the legal advocacy group Liberty Counsel, said even if Davis had to pay the legal fees, the amount sought by the plaintiffs’ attorneys, who were backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, was excessive.
"This is a 'Hail Mary' attempt by the ACLU because the cases were already dismissed and closed. I do not think they have a prayer," Mat Staver, another Davis attorney from the Liberty Counsel, said in a statement.
ACLU officials declined to comment on Friday.
In September, lawyers for four couples – two same-sex and two straight – asked the court for more than $200,000 in legal fees accrued in challenging Davis' stance. Even after Bunning issued an injunction ordering the issuance of the licenses, Davis refused and was jailed for being in contempt of court.
Earlier this year, legislators in Kentucky passed a law removing clerks' names from the license form.
(Reporting by Steve Bittenbender, Editing by Ben Klayman and Tom Brown)
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