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Kentucky clerk defying court on gay marriage licenses to file response

By Steve Bittenbender

LOUISVILLE, Ky (Reuters) - Attorneys for a Kentucky county clerk who has stopped issuing marriage licenses to avoid serving same-sex couples are expected to file a response on Friday to the court.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis and her office stopped issuing all marriage licenses following the U.S. Supreme Court's June ruling legalizing gay marriage, and she has continued with that stance despite an injunction on Wednesday by a federal judge ordering her office to begin issuing licenses again.

Davis previously said her religious beliefs as an Apostolic Christian prevented her from issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

Attorneys for Davis, who is on vacation, had filed a request for the judge to stay his injunction until the case is resolved by the courts, and on Thursday the clerk's office turned away three gay couples seeking marriage licenses.

U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning had originally set a Monday deadline for a response by Davis' attorneys but cut that to Friday after the plaintiffs' attorneys filed their response on Thursday. Bunning also limited Davis' reply to five pages.

A spokeswoman from Liberty Counsel, which is representing Davis, expects their response to be filed Friday afternoon.

Shortly after the Supreme Court's landmark ruling, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear ordered the state's 120 county clerks to begin processing same-sex marriage licenses. A few, including Davis, decided to disregard it because of what they said was their Christian belief that marriage can be only between a man and a woman.

On Wednesday, Bunning issued a preliminary injunction ordering Davis' office to process license applications from all couples, saying she had to live up to her responsibilities as county clerk despite her religious beliefs. Davis filed an appeal the same day.

(Reporting by Steve Bittenbender; Editing by Ben Klayman and Eric Beech)

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