Thursday December 07, 2017

Meet the gay man running against the Kentucky clerk who refused to grant him a marriage licence

David Ermold, right, files to run for Rowan County Clerk in Kentucky as Clerk Kim Davis look on.

David Ermold, right, files to run for Rowan County Clerk in Kentucky as Clerk Kim Davis look on. (Adam Beam/Associated Press)

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Story transcript

David Ermold found himself sitting across a desk on Wednesday from the same Rowan County clerk who two years ago denied him a marriage license because he was gay.

Only this time, he did not want a license. He wants Davis' job.

Ermold filed to run for county clerk on Wednesday, hoping to challenge the woman who two years ago told him "God's authority" prohibited her from complying with a U.S. Supreme Court decision that effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide.

Davis spent five days in jail for disobeying a federal judge's order and emerged as a martyr in some conservative circles. 

Ermold spoke to As It Happens guest host Jim Brown about why he's now challenging Davis for her job. Here is part of that conversation.

I'm looking at a picture of you and her signing your election papers and you're sitting right across the table from Kim Davis, the woman who denied you your marriage licence. What was that like?

The word really to describe the moment was a little tense. You know, I think there was a little bit of tension on the other side of the desk as well.

Gay Marriage Kentucky

Davis became a champion for people who oppose gay rights. (Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press)

Why have you decided to run against Ms. Davis for county clerk?

Back in 2015 ... Kim Davis was put in jail for contempt of court, and people seem to forget that. But anyway, at the rally when she was finished with her time, [Former Arkansas Governor] Mike Huckabee was here, [Texas Sen.] Ted Cruz was here. And they were just using our plight, they were using our struggle, they were using the people of this community for their own ambitions.

That was kind of like strike one, you know, when I think about it. Because I was looking at their political aspirations and how they were going about it, you know, and they didn't care if they divided the people.

And then what happens? They go back to their own states. They go back home. No harm, no foul, right? Because they don't have to deal with our constituents.

APTOPIX Gay Marriage Kentucky

Ermold, right, attempts to hand Rowan County clerks Nathan Davis, left, and Roberta Earley, second from left, a copy of the ruling from U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning, instructing the county to start issuing marriage licenses, in Morehead, Ky., on Aug. 13, 2015. (Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press)

There's going to be people out there who see your campaign as kind of a bit of payback, an act of revenge. Is it?

It's absolutely not an act of revenge.

I'm a very compassionate person. I think that's what is important here, is that we aren't dividing our county up any more, we aren't dividing the people up anymore.

This divide-and-conquer, that's coming straight down from Washington. That's where that's coming from and they're teaching all these politicians that this is all they have to do. And we really need to start bringing people back together, and that's how we're going to move forward.

Gay Marriage Kentucky

Ermold, right, is hugged by Taral Thompson following the refusal of the Rowan County clerk's office to issue a marriage license to he and his partner, in defiance of a federal judge's decision. (Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press)

Now your husband, David Moore, what does he think about your candidacy?

He has been working non-stop to make this happen. He put the website together. He does the graphic design.

I know you're an optimistic candidate, but your county is kind of a conservative spot. Do you really have a chance?

We've made a lot of inroads. We've been here 14 years. And I'll tell you something. We are a little bright spot in Kentucky. They may have gone for Trump in this last election cycle, but we have a really strong history of putting Democrats in office at the local level in this county.

And I'll tell you something else. Equality, inclusion, all of those things, they are not just issues of the Democratic Party. There's a lot of conservative people that have those same issues. So I look at some of our more higher ideals, what we're going for, as universal to everyone in this county.

— With files from Associated Press