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The lawyer for a county official in Kentucky said Friday that Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis may have violated a federal judge's order against interfering with the issuance of marriage licenses.
After claiming that granting them to same-sex couples would violate her religious beliefs, Davis was found in contempt of court for refusing to issue any licenses and spent five days in jail earlier this month.
When the judge released her, he ordered her not to interfere with any of her deputies who assumed the duty of issuing the licenses.
But in a notice filed in court Friday, the lawyer for one of her deputies said she made substantial modifications to the marriage licenses that could undermine their validity.
"Those changes were made in some attempt to circumvent the court's orders and may have raised to the level of interference against the court's orders," wrote Richard Hughes, who represents Brian Mason, a deputy county clerk who has issued marriage licenses under the judge's order.
The changes Davis made, Hughes said, include deleting her name, all mention of Rowan County, and references to deputy clerks. Only Mason's name is on the form, not his title, with a place for him to initial rather than to use his signature.
Mason, the deputy clerk, is worried that he is "issuing licenses which had some remote questionable validity, but now with these changes may in fact have some substantial questions about validity," Hughes said.
"Mr. Mason's concern is he does not want to be the party that is issuing invalid marriage licenses and he is trying to follow the court's mandate as well as his superior ordering him to issue only these changed forms," the lawyer said.
Kentucky law specifies the rules for the form that county clerks must use, and the changes made by Davis appear to be at odds with many of them. Legal experts in the state have, to date, not questioned the validity of the modified licenses.
Davis' lawyer, Mat Staver, disputed the claim. "Kim Davis said Monday that her name and title would not appear on the forms and later that same day the Governor said the forms were valid," he said. "And Judge Bunning's order releasing Kim Davis said a form altered by Brian the day after the contempt hearing while Kim was in jail was valid. So there is no new development."