Kentucky Clerk Who Still Won’t Give Gay Marriage Licenses Has Not Been Fired, But Jail Works Too
It’s been a couple months now since gay marriage was officially legalized in all 50 states, so one would think that all the kinks would have been worked out of the system by now. (By “kinks” I mean leftover bigots practicing civil disobedience.) But one Kentucky clerk is still refusing to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite the fact that it’s part of her job and a judge has explicitly ordered her to do so.
According to ABC News, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was ordered by a federal judge to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but her lawyer says Davis is responding with a big old “nuh-uh.” In fact she’s just refusing to give out marriage certificates at all, and has told her constituents to go elsewhere to get them. As a result, two gay couples and two straight couples have filed suit against her in Kentucky, and a judge has sided with the plaintiffs.
Davis insists that issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples is the same thing as personally approving of them. Davis maintains that violates her Christian beliefs, and thus says she should be excused from doing part of her job.
U.S. District Judge David Bunning says signing off on a marriage license does not count as speech, so Davis’ freedom of speech is not being infringed upon. He also said that issuing marriage licenses “does not require the county clerk to condone or endorse same-sex marriage on religious or moral grounds.” In fact he went through every one of her legal arguments and shot them down individually in his 28-page ruling.
“Davis remains free to practice her Apostolic Christian beliefs,” Bunning said. “She may continue to attend church twice a week, particiate in Bible Study and minister to female inmates at the Rowan County Jail. She is even free to believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman, as many Americans do. However, her religious convictions cannot excuse her from performing the duties that she took an oath to perform as Rowan County Clerk.”
Rowan County Clerk is an elected office, which means Davis is refusing to do a job that she has been elected to do. Even the governor has ordered Davis to start issuing the licenses. If she continues refusing, which her lawyer says she will, she faces being charged with contempt of court and hit with a fine and even possible jail time.
An elected official apparently can’t just be fired for not doing her job, which must be pretty nice for her. Contempt of court is a crime, though, and impeachment would get her out of office, though it is a long and complicated process. Or Davis could just make life easier for everybody and step down if she finds part of her job too objectionable to do, but it doesn’t sound like she’s interested in being rational about any of this and is just going to be a burr in the government’s side.
Davis says she’s a God-fearing Christian who goes to church “twice a week.” It sounds like she should go even more often. Hopefully she’ll have plenty of time to go to church and pray after she’s out of a job.