Rowan County, Kentucky, county clerk Kim Davis refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex applicants as the law now requires, nor will she allow others in her office to issue any marriage licenses. Davis is elected; she can’t be fired, she won’t resign.
Davis cites her “Christian faith and constitutional right to religious freedom” as reasons to deny others’ civil rights, although a civil license has no religious component, implies no endorsement of the licensed activity, certifying only that the provided information is correct. Davis could have another clerk sign for her, but remains adamant, disrupting lives and incurring thousands in legal fees through her failed appeals. Why? Cui bono? Who benefits
Is Davis backed by some right-wing political cabal seeking to showcase alleged religious discrimination? Is she looking to attain some personal (and widely publicized) Christian martyrdom? Davis wouldn’t have been a blip on the national consciousness if she’d informed her staff, “I’m not signing any marriage licenses for gays. One of y’all sign if we have to.”
Answering one of Davis’s several appeals, Judge David L. Bunning of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Kentucky asked, “Does the First Amendment likely excuse Kim Davis from issuing marriage licenses because she has a religious objection to same-sex marriage? … The Court answers this question in the negative.”
Her high-handed, arrogant behavior would have flown back in the day. Until 1967, Davis could have, with impunity, denied marriage licenses to mixed-race couples, cherry-picking Bible quotes as she pleased, knowing everyone white would have her back. But the social climate has changed, and, however erratically, is tending toward insuring equal rights for every United States citizen.
As we go to press, Davis’s appeal to SCOTUS has been denied. On September 3, she was escorted to the Carter County Detention Center (KY), where she is, at this writing, listed as an inmate. On September 4, eight couples, including six same-sex, requested and received marriage licenses.
Unwittingly on the right side of history back in February, Davis had issued a license to transman Camryn Colen and his partner, not checking that his birth certificate identified him as female. Commented Colen, “She saw just a straight couple in love and she should see everybody like that.”