David Ermond, a gay man denied a marriage license by county clerk Kim Davis in 2015, is now hoping to unseat Davis by running for county clerk himself. Here’s five things to know:
1. Ermold and his Husband Have a Pending Lawsuit Against Davis
Kim Davis, county clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, first made headlines in the summer of 2015 when she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite the Supreme Court’s then-new Obergefell v. Hodges ruling saying that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry due to the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses. Davis also refused to allow other clerks to issue the licenses, because her name was still on them.
Davis argued that she would not issue marriage licenses to gay couples because doing so would violate her religious beliefs. David Ermold and his now-husband, David Moore, eventually filed a lawsuit against Davis “Individually and in her Official Capacity as Rowan County Clerk.” (Two other gay couples denied licenses also filed suit against Davis.) A judge initially dismissed all three suits, since Kentucky had since changed state law so that the names of county clerks no longer appeared on marriage licenses issued by said counties. “In light of these proceedings, and in view of the fact that the marriage licenses continue to be issued without incident, there no longer remains a case or controversy before the Court,” Judge David Bunning wrote in 2016.
But in May 2017, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revived the lawsuit because “We conclude that the district court’s characterization of this case as simply contesting the ‘no marriage licenses’ policy is inaccurate because Ermold and Moore did not seek an injunction — they sought only damages. This action is not a general challenge to Davis’s policy, but rather seeks damages for a particularized harm allegedly suffered by a specific set of plaintiffs.”
2. Ermold First Floated Plans to run a Month ago
On Nov. 7, the Associated Press reported that Ermold was thinking of running for county clerk, in hope of unseating Davis. “I think I could win,” Ermold told the AP. “I don’t think that she has learned anything from the experience at all. I really, truly think that she feels like she is right. I really don’t think she cares at all about what civil rights are.”
Ermold officially announced his intent to run almost a month later, taking to Twitter on Dec. 6 to announce “It’s official. I’m in! I am proud to announce my entrance into the race for Rowan County Clerk! I am running to restore the people’s confidence in our clerk’s office. Please visit my campaign website at http://www.davidermold.com where you can learn how to support our mission.”
3. He’s a Professor of English at Pikeville University
The faculty and staff page for the Humanities department at Pikeville University lists Ermold as an assistant professor of English and developmental studies.
His campaign website says that he has been teaching at the University of Pikeville ever since graduating from Morehead State University with two Master’ degrees. He has also worked with prison inmates “helping to guide them with the skills needed to successfully re-enter society. Working with such a diverse population has helped David understand the needs of all those in the community, and it has helped him to understand that working together is the only way to move society forward.”
4. Ermold and Moore Recorded Davis’ Refusal to do her Job
On September 1, 2015, after their first attempt to get a legal marriage license from Davis’ Rowan County office failed (and after the courts had already ruled that Davis must issue licenses to all people who legally qualified for them), Ermold and Moore returned, and this time they videotaped their encounter.
The ACLU of Kentucky filed suit against Davis, asking that she be fined for “contempt of court for failing to comply with this Court’s August 12, 2015, preliminary injunction ruling.” Davis was eventually jailed for contempt of court for a few days.
5. Ermold and his Husband Have Been Together for Almost 20 Years
David Ermold has lived in Rowan County for 14 years, according to CNN; and has been romantically involved with his husband David Moore since 1998, as mentioned in the “Background” of the appeals court ruling reviving Ermold and Moore’s lawsuit against Davis, which says that “On July 6, 2015, David Ermold and David Moore, two male residents of Rowan County, Kentucky, who had by that time been in a committed relationship for seventeen years, applied for a marriage license at the Rowan County Clerk’s Office.”
By contrast, Kim Davis is a triple divorcee currently on her fourth marriage. Matthew 19:9 says that anyone who divorces and then remarries is committing adultery.