Video Shows Same-Sex Ky. Couple Being Told Clerk Refuses to Issue Marriage License

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was recently sued prior to the incident.

July 9, 2015, 12:13 PM

— -- A Kentucky same-sex couple wanted nothing more than to get a marriage license in their home county, but they say the clerk refused to grant it based on her personal views – and their emotionally charged exchange with an office employee was caught on video.

One of the men, David Ermold, 41, an assistant professor at a local university, said he and his partner, David Moore, went to the Rowan County Clerk's office prepared on Monday, knowing that some officials were refusing to honor the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that same-sex marriage is constitutionally protected.

"We don’t want this to happen to anyone else," one of the men, David Ermold, told ABC News. "This was not a good feeling."

The incident Monday comes just a few days after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the Rowan (Kentucky) County Clerk, Kim Davis, and Rowan County on behalf of four couples -- two same-gender couples and two opposite-gender couples -- who were also denied marriage licenses by Davis, according to a court complaint.

ACLU lawyer Dan Canon told ABC News he has been in touch with the Morehead, Kentucky, couple because the outcome of the case could affect them, although they are not the organization's clients. The ACLU complaint is a proposed class action.

PHOTO: David Ermold (left) and David Moore (right) appear in this 2000 photo. They were denied a marriage license in Kentucky.
David Ermold (left) and David Moore (right) appear in this 2000 photo. They were denied a marriage license in Kentucky.
Courtesy of David Ermold

Ermold and Moore, who say they have been together 17 years and have shared a house in the area for the past decade, realize that they could have gone elsewhere to get married, but they wanted to get their license in Rowan County.

"We could have gone to any other state and done that," Ermold said. "This is where we live. This has been our home. I have two master’s degrees from Morehead State."

When the historic Supreme Court ruling came down, the men planned to get a license in their home county and then have a ceremony in Tennessee or Niagara Falls.

But they didn't go straight away. Instead, they say they wrote letters to the clerk and a judge at the end of June alerting them to their plans, but did not hear back.

"We also knew that it was going to be difficult," Ermold said. "We’ve dealt with discrimination our entire lives. That was a hard day – just walking in."

In the video, which has since gone viral, garnering almost half a million views on YouTube in less than 24 hours, the couple walks up to a desk at the Rowan County Clerk's office asking to talk to Davis directly after being told the clerk would not issue them a license.

"I have the letter from the Governor's Office stating that all the county clerks are to issue marriage licenses," Ermold says in the video. He also mentions the Supreme Court's recent ruling before being interrupted by an unidentified woman at the desk, according to the video.

"We know what it reads sir, and we're not issuing any license," the woman at the desk tells them. Instead, she suggested the couple can go to any other county to get their marriage license, according to the video.

Ermold responds that they don't want to go to any other county because they've lived in Rowan County for over 10 years, pay their taxes there and even registered their cars there.

"We have our rights," he says.

At the end of the footage, the clerk herself comes out, asking the person recording the video, a colleague of Moore's, to put the cellphone away, but a woman's voice can be heard saying that the video was for the couple's rights.

The video then goes black and the video was turned off out of courtesy, Ermold said.

After that, Davis told them they couldn't get a license, according to Ermold.

"She reiterated her religious views," Ermold told ABC News. "She spoke to us about Adam and Eve and about Eve was from the rib of Adam. I was starting to get a little upset and I ended up walking out."

"She was very specific in stating that she was denying our license based on her personal views," he added. "She was worried about her own soul."

Davis has said that her Christian beliefs prevented her from complying with the Supreme Court decision, so she decided to issue no more marriage licenses to any couple, gay or straight, the Associated Press reported.

She is among a handful of judges and clerks across the South who have defied the high court's order, maintaining that the right to "religious freedom" protects them from having to comply, the AP added.

Davis did not immediately respond to ABC News' requests for comment on the video and lawsuit.

Ermold said that his family is from Pennsylvania, but he moved to Morehead to be with Moore.

"It means a lot" to get married," he said. "We both have jobs. We want to move forward with our healthcare."

"We just want to simplify our lives," he added. "This just seems to be unnecessarily in the way."

Ermold said he plans to pursue legal action to help pressure the clerk's office into action, but they are not interested in money.

"We don’t want other people to go through this," he said.

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