William Smith & James Yates, The First Gay Couple To Get A Marriage License In Rowan County, Are Setting A Wedding Date
On Thursday, Rowan County, Ky., clerk Kim Davis went to jail after refusing to follow federal law and a judge's orders to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Five of the six deputy clerks who work under Davis agreed to begin issuing marriage licenses again, after also refusing to do so ever since the Supreme Court ruled that same sex marriage is legal across all 50 states. The clerk's office in Rowan County opened at 8 a.m. on Friday morning and issued its first same-sex marriage license to William Smith and James Yates, a couple who has been together for nearly 10 years.
Smith and Yates have been involved with this battle against Davis from the beginning. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that the couple was among the group who sued Davis for her refusal to issue marriage licenses. The New York Times reported that the couple had attempted to obtain a marriage license on five previous occasions in Rowan County, but were denied each time. After the couple was denied their license for the third time, Yates stated that being denied yet again only made the couple want to "press more" and added that Davis would not be able to get away with refusing to afford couples their right to marry, according to The Courier Journal.
Smith, 33, and Yates, 41, arrived bright and early to the county clerk's office where Brian Mason, one of the deputy clerks, issued their marriage license. The New York Times Times further reported that Mr. Smith stated he felt "elated" to finally receive a marriage license in the couple's home county. The New York Daily News reported that Yates called this event "a blessing." Daily News also reported that the couple is now trying to decide on a date for the wedding ceremony they plan to have at Yates' family home.
The couple sat down for an interview with CNN this week, stating that they not only felt it was wrong for them to have been denied a marriage license in the past, but also that they were concerned about "possible violence" when they went to the courthouse on Friday. Smith added that violence is something "you always worry about as a gay person; it's always in the back of your head." Yates stated that the couple was able to "feel the hate" targeted at them when they attempted to receive a marriage license in the past.
In response to a question about why they had not gone to a neighboring county to receive their license, Smith answered, saying, "This is where we live, this is where we pay taxes, this is where we work, this is our home, this is our right." With their marriage license now in hand, the couple is now able to proceed with their marriage plans.