Annie Fullwood, Staff Writer
September 11, 2015
“Marriage is ordained by God to be a man and a woman,” said Kentucky clerk Kim Davis.
Davis was recently arrested following a federal court order stating that she must issue marriage licenses to both heterosexual and same-sex couples, which she refused. She was released on Sept. 8.
Following the June 25 Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states, Davis and fellow Kentucky clerks from Casey, Clinton, Lawrence and Montgomery counties refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Many of the clerks justified their actions as religious freedoms.
“I respect their position, the gay community’s, that that is how they want to live … but I would ask for the same respect for my decision,” said a fellow Kentucky clerk to the Courier Journal.
Despite the popularity of Davis among conservatives, many are vocal about the futility of her protests.
“Personal disapproval, whatever the reason, has never relieved a clerk from performing the duties of her office, and it shouldn’t now,” said Dan Canon, a lawyer who previously won a case in favor of lesbian and gay couples in Kentucky, to the Courier Journal. “I’m going to take a wild guess that these clerks have issued plenty of licenses to couples who engage in a whole host of behaviors they might find unbiblical, immoral or simply distasteful.”
Davis’ actions and arrest have amassed a large following, including multiple rallies to show support. Outside the Carter County Detention Center, where Davis was held, Family Foundation organized a major rally of over 200 people.
“She won’t bow, I promise you,” her husband Joe Davis said at the event. “I’m just an old, dumb country hillbilly, but I know God.”
Davis stated that she would remain in custody until she is given the right to only issue heterosexual marriage licenses. She also refuses to resign.
However, a judge has ordered that she can not prohibit her deputies from issuing licenses to same-sex couples. It is unclear what will happen when she returns to her job.
“There is no law that requires her to grant a marriage license to people of the same sex,” said Michael Peroutka, lawyer and founder of the Institute on the Constitution to NBC News. “The Court has had many opinions … but they are not law.”
Many experts disagree with Peroutka, however.
“She’s being held in contempt because she’s refusing to follow a district court decision in a suit to which she is a party, holding that same-sex couples have a right to obtain marriage licenses from her,” said Steve Vladeck, professor at the American University Washington College of Law, to NBC News.
“It’s hard to think of any way in which she could be more directly violating a judicial judgment by which she is bound.”
The spotlight on Davis has made her a hot topic among GOP candidates. Sen. Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee have all spoken in support of Davis, while Donald Trump was more reluctant.
“You have to go with it,” said Trump on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “The decision has been made. And that is the law of the land.”
However, Trump later claimed that he hated seeing Kim Davis in jail. Similarly, some assert that her arrest may have been an unnecessary, or extreme action.
“Imprisoning people doesn’t make anyone safer,” said Parker Hurley, the LGBTQQA Coordinator, on Davis’ arrest. “It doesn’t scream justice to me. Anytime we are putting people in cages it doesn’t feel like anything that’s going to be transformative. It’s not going to change her mind and it’s not going to have queer people feel more safe.”
The jailing of Kim Davis has martyred her among many Christians, which may lead to similar protests in the future.
“Clerks’ lives matter,” said Kentucky gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin at the Family Foundation rally. “Christian lives matter. Religious liberty matters. The inalienable rights of every single American matter.”