Gay man denied marriage license by Kim Davis challenging her for county clerk: I want to bring 'people back together'

PHOTO: David Ermold, right, files to run for Rowan County Clerk in Kentucky as Clerk Kim Davis look on Dec. 6, 2017, in Morehead, Ky.PlayAdam Beam/AP
WATCH Gay Couple Joined Kim Davis for Meeting With Pope Francis

Two years after Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis denied a marriage license to David Ermold and his partner of more than 15 years, Ermold and Davis are crossing paths once again: He is challenging Davis for her seat.

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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 named faculty member 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."

PHOTO: Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, with Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, left, at her side, greets the crowd after being released from the Carter County Detention Center, Sept. 8, 2015, in Grayson, Ky.Timothy D. Easley/AP Photo
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, with Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, left, at her side, greets the crowd after being released from the Carter County Detention Center, Sept. 8, 2015, in Grayson, Ky.

In 2015, soon after the Supreme Court upheld the right of same-sex couples nationwide to marry, Ermold went to the county clerk's office with a copy of the ruling in his hand. He was met by a defiant Davis, the chief clerk, who refused to issue a license to him and Moore.

She sparked a national outcry after refusing to issue marriage licenses to many same-sex couples. She was later jailed for nearly a week for violating an order by a federal judge to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

PHOTO: David Moore, center, and his partner David Ermold attempt to apply for a marriage license at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Sept. 1, 2015.Timothy D. Easley/AP
David Moore, center, and his partner David Ermold attempt to apply for a marriage license at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Sept. 1, 2015.

PHOTO: David Ermold speaks with Clerk Kim Davis as he files to run for Rowan County Clerk Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Morehead, Ky.Adam Beam/AP
David Ermold speaks with Clerk Kim Davis as he files to run for Rowan County Clerk Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Morehead, Ky.

On his third visit to the county clerk's office, Ermold and his partner were finally granted a marriage license from the Rowan County courthouse on September 4, 2015. Kim Davis was in jail at the time. They were married in a public ceremony on October 31.

PHOTO: Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis listens to a customer at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Sept. 1, 2015.Timothy D. Easley/AP, FILE
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis listens to a customer at the Rowan County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Sept. 1, 2015.

Thinking back to the day when Davis defied the Supreme Court's ruling for him and Moore, 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. President Donald Trump carried Rowan County over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

PHOTO: A gathering of same sex marriage supporters, left, and supporters of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, right, face off in front of the Rowan County Courthouse, Sept. 1, 2015, in Morehead, Ky.Timothy D. Easley/AP Photo
A gathering of same sex marriage supporters, left, and supporters of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, right, face off in front of the Rowan County Courthouse, Sept. 1, 2015, in Morehead, Ky.

PHOTO: Surrounded by Rowan County Sheriffs deputies, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, center, with her son Nathan Davis standing by her side, makes a statement to the media at the front door of the Rowan County Judicial Center in Morehead, Ky.Timothy D. Easley/AP Photo
Surrounded by Rowan County Sheriff's deputies, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, center, with her son Nathan Davis standing by her side, makes a statement to the media at the front door of the Rowan County Judicial Center in Morehead, Ky.

For now, Ermold's focus is on challenging Davis, who he says would rather "saunter off into other countries" than focus on the issues facing Rowan County.

ABC News attempted to reach out to Davis for comment but did not immediately hear back.

Mat Staver, a Liberty Counsel attorney who represents Davis, told ABC News that Ermold has a "personal vendetta" in running and has no experience fit for the job. Staver said Davis also intends on running for re-election and that she "loves her job," which he stressed is more than just issuing marriage licenses.

Ermold, who has lived in the county for 14 years, is ready to challenge those who might say Kentucky isn't ready for a candidate like him.

Responding to critics, Ermold said, "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 said. "Let the people decide."

Ermold is optimistic about his "win-win" campaign, which he hopes will inspire others in the LGBTQ community.

"We're just going to 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."

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