The highly-publicized Kim Davis marriage license debacle is reaching a fever pitch. It’s grown from a simple county clerk who’s refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses to a pivotal and defining moment in the nation’s unfolding gay marriage drama.
For those unfamiliar with the story, Kim Davis is county clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky. One integral part of her job is to issue marriage licenses. Since this June, marriage has been legal for same-sex couples due to a landmark Supreme Court decision. Since that ruling, Davis has refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses, citing the religious protections afforded her by the First Amendment. Protect Thy Neighbor has created an excellent timeline of events up to mid-August. She ultimately became the first county clerk in the nation to be sued for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses in compliance with the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling.
The last weeks of August were defining ones for the case, and most definitely a disappointing time for Kim Davis.
The Washington Post reports that Kim Davis was ordered by the Kentucky Governor Steven Beshear and a Federal district court to do the job she was elected to do and to issue marriage licenses in compliance with the law. The embattled clerk refused and sought intervention from a higher court. First, Kim Davis received an order from the federal court to comply with the law. Subsequently, Davis was denied an injunction or stay and was ordered to comply with the federal court’s order. She even filed her case with the Supreme Court, who refused to hear her case.
In a nutshell, Kim Davis was unequivocally ordered by the highest courts in the land to issue same-sex marriage licenses by the end of the day on Monday, August 31.
Davis has yet to comply. Therefore, the ACLU has filed a motion that Kim Davis be held in Contempt of Court. Kim Davis is scheduled to appear in court at 11 am on Thursday, September 3 to answer to the charges. Ultimately, she could be fined or even face jail time. Because her job is that of a duly elected official, Kim Davis cannot simply be fired.
Despite the threat of serious consequences, Kim Davis is steadfastly clinging to her religion, and the belief that her faith should exempt her from having to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Davis sees her denial of basic civil services to same-sex couples as her right, as well as the right of those who share her beliefs.
“There was a lot of people that died for that right and I think we should be able to exercise it.”
Kim Davis promised to do her job as described and follow the law as written when she won the last election cycle by a narrow margin.
“My words can never express the appreciation, but I promise to each and every one that I will be the very best working clerk that I can be and will be a good steward of their tax dollars and follow the statutes of this office to the letter.”
Some of Kim Davis’ constituents don’t believe she’s keeping her promise. Specifically, David Moore. Moore is half of the same-sex couple Davis initially denied a marriage license.
“I pay your salary, I pay you to discriminate against me right now, that’s what I’m paying for.”
Moore and his fiance David Ermold are still waiting to be issued a marriage license. This despite Kim Davis public suggestion that same-sex couples go to another county to exercise their civil rights.
Not surprisingly, people have taken to social media to have their say about how Kim Davis is handling her clerking duties.
Some of the most scathing critiques of Kim Davis have to do with the fact that she’s on her fourth marriage and has three divorces under her belt. This despite using her desire to adhere to the Biblical rule of law when it applies to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Davis has also never refused to issue divorce documents or marriage licenses to previously-divorced applicants. This despite both divorce and remarriage being big no-no’s according to the Bible
With gay marriage being so newly-legal across the U.S., this case could be the defining moment regarding how the issue of religious freedom is handled when it comes to same-sex couples. By refusing to hear Davis’ appeal, the Supreme Court is silently upholding their ruling from earlier in the year. Quite simply, they declared marriage a basic civil right. Something that can’t be infringed upon, even if the parties getting married are of the same gender.
It’s wholly likely that Kim Davis’ same-sex marriage discrimination will be treated on par with racial discrimination – i.e., something you can’t get away with based upon your religious beliefs. The gay marriage rights efforts have been compared to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s.
No matter what happens, Davis and her defiance will be remembered as a symbol of traditional-marriage proponents standing up for their convictions and using their interpretation of the U.S. Constitution and more specifically the 1st Amendment to defend their beliefs. Unfortunately for her, whether or not someone’s freedom of religion allows them to impose their beliefs on others via a government job seems to have been decided. Based upon the court’s decision regarding Kim Davis and her demand to be exempted from providing basic civil services to her constituency, the answer is “No.”
[Image Courtesy: Ty Wright/Getty Images]