But even the judge conceded that those licenses, if issued,  may not be valid, although he refused to decide that issue and left it to the lawyers for the same-sex couples to confront.  The question of legality of new licenses came up during a series of hearings throughout the day Thursday in U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning’s court in Ashland, but did not get resolved and will linger.

With County Clerk Kim Davis in jail, under the judge’s order that she had illegally broken his order to end her “no marriage licenses” policy as a way of obeying her religious views against same-sex marriage, the dispute will be moving forward on several points and could return to the Supreme Court on at least some aspects.  Her lawyers said they will be appealing her contempt punishment, and they have two other appeals pending in lower courts.

Davis’s religious complaint all along has been that, because Kentucky law requires her name and signature to be on every marriage license issued in her county, issuing licenses to any couples would involve her directly in authorizing same-sex couples to marry, which would violate her belief that God has made marriage an institution only for a man and a woman.  She thus adopted a no-licensing policy and ordered her deputies to follow the policy as well.