The antigay renegade Kentucky clerk has lost yet another appeal of a federal judge's marriage equality ruling, but she’s not done appealing yet…and after last week’s election results, she just might win (eventually). But at what cost?
In case you missed it, Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis was jailed on September 3 for contempt for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Upon being released, Davis has continued to refuse to issue the licenses herself, but has allowed her deputy clerks to do so if her name is not on the document. The licenses have been changed to say they have been issued "pursuant to a federal court order."
The irony of all of this is that the four couples suing Davis because she denied them the right to marry were all issued marriage licenses by a deputy clerk willing to perform the duty while Davis was in jail.
Yet, Davis continues to battle in court for the right to deny people the right to marry. Essentially, she is fighting the courts for the right to not do her job and still get paid for it.
The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals denied her latest request for a reprieve last Thursday, and she is already planning another appeal.
If she has such an issue with following the law, shouldn’t she just step down from her elected position and do something else that doesn’t infringe on her beliefs?
Not in Kentucky.
This past Tuesday was Election Day and voters in Kentucky expressed their support at the ballot for Kim Davis, a woman who is on a quest to save the sanctity of marriage but has been married four times herself.
On Tuesday, Republican, Tea Party favorite, and Kim Davis fan Matt Bevin won a stunning upset over Democrat attorney general Jack Conway, against all odds gathered through early statewide polls.
According to WKYT, Kentucky's local CBS News Station, Bevin wound up with 52 percent of the votes cast, Conway finished second with 43 percent, and Independent Drew Curtis came in third with 3.6 percent.
Bevin, along with other newly elected Republicans, gives the GOP control of the executive branch along with a commanding majority in the state Senate.
How did this happen in a state where moderate Democrats have historically maintained control state government?
The secretary of state's office reports that voter turnout last week "was approximately 30.7 percent" of the state's population -- the majority of whom were Republican and Tea Party voters, hence the unpredicted take over. (Democrats still have a majority in the state's House of Representatives; however, that could change in the 2016 election cycle if Democrats don't show up to vote again.)
One of the most significant differences between the Republican and Democrat gubernatorial candidates was their position on Kim Davis.
At the time of Kim Davis’s arrest, Democrat Jack Conway was the attorney general, and he was in lock-step with Democrat Governor Steve Beshear, who stated that the Kentucky governor “does not have the authority to unilaterally change Kentucky’s marriage licenses” and clerks must issue licenses to same-sex couples.
Governor Beshear also told Kim Davis to issue the licenses or resign from her elected position (this is why she continues to appeal her court case).
While Kim Davis was in jail, Conway, as the state's attorney general, was of course in a position to come to Davis' aid but didn't. Bevin, on the other hand, embraced Kim Davis’ cause, and reportedly visited her in jail. He even enlisted Davis to make robo-calls for his campaign. Aside from the low voter turnout from Democrats, these strategies seem to have greatly attributed to Matt Bevin winning the governor's seat as he is now the second Republican Governor of Kentucky in more than 40 years.
It becomes even clearer that the majority of Kentucky voters who turned out to vote last Tuesday are Team Kim Davis due to how Bevin ran his campaign.
During the gubernatorial race, Bevin stated he is “committed to removing" the names of same-sex couples "from wedding licenses so that their names are not affixed to a license to commit the infamous crime against nature.”
According to MSNBC, Bevin is living up to this promise. In fact, he says it is the first thing he plans to accomplish within the first month of his governorship. Bevin plans to issue an executive order to change the state marriage licenses in favor of county clerks who say issuing licenses to same-sex couples goes against their religious beliefs.
At first, how he explains his interpretation of marriage licenses is something few could argue with, as he sounds like a strict constitutionalist, looking to create a true separation of church and state. He said:
I believe the government should be out of the marriage business altogether. We can comply with the law while protecting our citizens’ rights to freedom of religion simply by separating the religious covenant of marriage from the legal, contractual relationship established by marriage as recognized by the state.
The two are separate and they should be treated as such. Two consenting adults should not need to ask for permission from the government to enter into a contractual relationship – a license should not be needed. As with other contracts, the government’s role should be limited to recording, interpreting, or enforcing such contracts in times of dispute.
To further this process, he said marriage license templates should be posted online so people can download them, fill them out and file them, “just like a mortgage, a lien, a deed, etc.”
However, Bevin also stated that a same-sex couple’s right to marry “should not trump Davis’ undisputed sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Which is somewhat contradictory to all that other stuff he said about marriage being a contract. If you’re calling for a separation of Church and State, shouldn’t the county clerk be held to the state’s (and Federal Government's) standards of marriage, not her own personal beliefs?
Where he also loses me is in the practical application of this. If a county clerk in Kim Davis land (Rowan County) denies a marriage license due to religious reasons, Bevin expects gay couples to travel to another county to get the paperwork approved (as the online option is not yet available).
However, in Kentucky, these clerks’ offices are sometimes 60 to 100 miles away…and what happens when this couple arrives at the clerks’ office after driving 100 miles to find that the particular clerk on duty won't issue the marriage license, citing religious reasons? Must the couple then drive another 100 miles? At what point does this become what it is – discrimination – as part of a county clerk’s job, by definition, is to issue marriage licenses?
What is most interesting about this case – which is likely to end up before the U.S. Supreme Court – is that if Bevin has his way, and if marriage licenses (be they same-sex or heterosexual) are acquired online instead of at a county clerk’s office, then this might lead to even more documentation being available online…and wouldn’t that eventually end the job of a county clerk, thus eventually putting Kim Davis out of business?
One could only hope, as it is clear that Kentucky voters in the county of Rowan will re-elect Kim Davis, just as they elected her strongest ally, Matt Bevin, who will become the new Governor of the State of Kentucky in early 2016.
As long as Kentucky Democrats (the majority) continue not to vote, the Republican minority will continue to control the elects and therefore control the outcome of decisions like these for years to come.
So what do you think? Kim Davis states the Supreme Court's decision to "create" the right for same-sex couples to legally marry infringes on her First Amendment right to practice religion.
Do you buy this? Should religious public employees be exempt from issuing gay marriage licenses? How does issuing marriage licenses infringe on the right to "practice" religion? Sound off below!
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.
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