Since Kentucky court clerk Kim Davis first emerged as a news item, the most oft-repeated question has been, “Why don’t they fire her?” Of course, the answer to that is that Davis is an elected official, rather than a hired employee, and the process to remove her from office is a bit more complex.
Instead, she has faced a judge and been ordered to do her job, and when she refused, she spent several days in jail. A condition of her release was that if she wouldn’t issue marriage licenses, she would at least not interfere with other clerks in the office, who had begun issuing marriage licenses in Kim’s absence. According to LEX18, an attorney for one of those clerks says that, despite orders, Kim Davis has indeed interfered with other clerks carrying out their lawful duty.
Though Davis was warned upon her release from jail that “appropriate sanctions” would be carried out if she further interfered, this isn’t the action that may cost someone a job — and Kim Davis isn’t the one who is at risk.
That, instead, has more to do with Davis’ claims of a “private audience” with Pope Francis during his visit to the United States, and her claims of his support.
The Vatican’s representation of Davis’ meeting of the pope is quite different from the claims from the Liberty Counsel (the conservative group who provided Davis with legal representation), it’s clear that the meeting was not the kind of PR the pope was hoping for during his visit.
The Liberty Counsel maintains that Kim Davis was taken to meet privately with Pope Francis, who spoke words of encouragement to her. According to US Uncut, the Vatican denies that a one-on-one visit ever took place, and indicates that the “meeting” was more of a brief pass in a receiving line with others, than the personal conversation Davis’ attorneys describe.
What both the Liberty Counsel and the Vatican seem to agree on, though, is that the “meeting,” whatever exactly it was, was set up by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.
The question now centers around Archbishop Viganò’s intentions and motives. The Liberty Counsel’s statement indicates he contacted Davis directly, and told her to change her hairstyle for the meeting in order not to be recognized. Whether this was intended to prevent questions or harassment from the crowd, or to keep Pope Francis from noticing that he was meeting a very well-known opponent of LGBT rights, is, of course, open to interpretation and depends on whether one follows the Vatican’s, or the Liberty Counsel’s, narrative of the meeting.
However, it is clear that the Archbishop has expressed opinions and stances that mirror Davis’. The Human Rights Campaign reports having contacted him previously to ask him to stop endorsing certain anti-gay agendas and groups.
Now, his may be the first employment casualty of the entire Kim Davis saga — the same US Uncut source linked above reports that the Vatican is unhappy with the negative attention surrounding Pope Francis and Davis, and that there is speculation that Viganò arranged the meeting secretly, to further his own agenda.
Pope Francis, who has been nicknamed “Pope Fluffy” for his penchant for statements that are far more liberal and inclusive that much of the Catholic church’s long-held canon (but more in keeping with many modern worshipers) has been lauded for his acceptance of LGBT individuals (though the church has always been quick to assure the public that this doesn’t represent a position reversal by the church), and the reports of his meeting with Kim Davis were detrimental to that image. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he took the steps that Kentucky’s government has avoided, and removed the person who made him appear to support discrimination.
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