Two years after Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis denied a marriage license to David Ermold and his partner of 15-plus years, Ermold and Davis are crossing paths once again: He is now challenging Davis for her seat.
Ermold filed on Wednesday to run for Rowan County clerk, with his husband, David Moore, by his side. Ermold is a professor at the University of Pikeville, and formerly a professor at the Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, where he was awarded faculty of the year.
“The message I want to send out is one of bringing people back together,” Ermold told ABC News Wednesday. “People are just hurt, people are angry, and we don’t have to follow this path … We can change.”
About nine days after the Supreme Court upheld the right of same-sex couples to marry in 2015, Ermold went to the county clerk’s office with a physical copy of the ruling in his hand. He was met by a defiant chief clerk who refused to issue a license to him and his partner.
That clerk, Davis, sparked national outcry after refusing to issue marriage licenses to many same-sex couples. Davis was later jailed for nearly a week for violating an order by a federal judge to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Thinking back to the day when Davis defied the Supreme Court’s ruling for him and his partner, Ermold said, “We’re looking at an office that touches the lives of everyone in the community.”
“We need to reconsider the leadership of our county, we need to reconsider the leadership of our state and maybe our country, our leaders are dividing us,” he said.
Ermold is facing a crowded field with three other candidates already opposing Davis’ re-election campaign. President Donald Trump also carried Rowan County over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
For now, Ermold’s focus is on challenging Davis, who he says would rather “saunter off into other countries” than focus on the issues the Rowan County faces at home.
Ermold, who has lived in Rowan County for 14 years, also is ready to challenge those who might say Kentucky isn’t ready for a “candidate like him.”
Responding to critics, Ermold says, “they aren’t looking at a larger picture here. They aren’t looking at the consequences of what happened in 2015.”
“This is the campaign that [voters] need to follow because it’s the one that really is what they’ve been looking for, for a long time.” He says, “Let the people decide.”
Ermold is optimistic about his “win-win” campaign that he hopes will inspire others in the LGBTQ community.
“We’re just gonna run this campaign,” he said. “We’re just going to do it because we can and because people came together and they are coming together.”
He added, “I know that spirit is out there.”