Kim Davis, the Rowan County (Kentucky) clerk, began her descent into disgrace by refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the wake of Obergefell. She was then sued for failing to do her job, and the courts said she had to issue the licenses. She appealed the case… and lost. Her lawyers tried to get the Supreme Court to overrule that decision, and yesterday, they denied that appeal, too.
Today, she’s decided the U.S. Government’s authority is superseded by a higher power.
On Tuesday morning, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ office denied the licenses to at least two couples. At first, Davis remained in her office with the door closed and blinds drawn. But she emerged a few minutes later, telling the couples and the activists gathered there that her office is continuing to deny the licenses “under God’s authority.”
Where have we heard such an argument before? Oh, that’s right — from racists who opposed desegregation. The same sorts of statements were made by Christian leaders at the time, but the legal system denied their appeals. The interesting distinction here is that this battle is being waged as a function of individual religious liberty, versus the institutional claims of religious liberty in relation to tax-exempt status for Christian colleges embracing racist policies. Will that impact the trajectory of this case? Only time will tell.
In the meantime, Davis may be in for a rude awakening… including jail time. As LGBTQ Nation explains:
… a couple that had been turned away went to Rowan County Attorney Cecil Watkins to ask that she be charged with official misconduct, a misdemeanor defined by state law as a public official who “refrains from performing a duty imposed upon him by law or clearly inherent in the nature of his office.” The crime is punishable by up to a year in jail.
Watkins cited a conflict of interest and forwarded the complaint to Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, whose office will decide whether to appoint a special prosecutor, generally a county attorney from a surrounding jurisdiction, who would decide whether to file charges.
How likely is such a move? That’s up in the air. In a passionate statement made last March, Conway announced that he would not defend the state’s ban on gay marriage, stating that he knew where the law was going on the subject. But Conway is also running for governor in a very red state, which may color his decision on the matter.
Regardless, the law and history will not be kind to Davis. As far as we’re concerned, she belongs in jail. Period.
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