Judge Tells Kentucky Clerk She Has to Issue Marriage Licenses to Gay Couples

In Depth

Dear elected officials of America: please do your fucking jobs. It’s understandable that having your right to bigotry taken away has caused some hardship, but if a court says you have to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, then you do just that. Especially if your name is Kim Davis and you’ve happily been denying a court order because gay marriage is “against your Christian beliefs.”

Davis’ name should sound familiar because she is one of two county clerks in Kentucky’s Rowan county who’s been denying couples marriage licenses. Recently, she made headlines when a gay couple filmed their experience of getting their marriage license rejected by her office (she was “out” due to religious reasons/hiding in her office so as not to be tainted by the disgusting mark that respecting human rights leaves on a person). Now she’s making headlines again because she’s still refusing to issue licenses despite the fact that a judge has explicitly ordered her to after refuting every one of her claims that doing so violates her religious freedom. Davis’ response when asked to just sign a fucking paper that allows people to be married? “They can go somewhere else.”

The Associated Press reports that Davis, who, again, is an elected official, Kentucky, is defying a court order because she’s a god-fearing Christian who goes to church “twice a week” and there’s no man that can make a law above God’s (amen). But Judge David Bunning, who presided over a complaint brought against Davis by two gay and two straight couples, ruled that she’s free to practice her religion as much as she wants, just not at the expense of others, regardless of whether she believes that doing the job is she is paid for will make god think that she approves of a marriage between two men or two women.

From The AP:

Davis argued that issuing a marriage license to a same-sex couple that contains her signature is the same as her approving the marriage, which she said violates her Christian beliefs. But U.S. District Judge David Bunning rejected that argument, saying Davis has likely violated the U.S. Constitution’s ban on the government establishing a religion by “openly adopting a policy that promotes her own religious convictions at the expenses of others.”
“Davis remains free to practice her Apostolic Christian beliefs. She may continue to attend church twice a week, particiate in Bible Study and minister to female inmates at the Rowan County Jail. She is even free to believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman, as many Americans do,” Bunning wrote. “However, her religious convictions cannot excuse her from performing the duties that she took an oath to perform as Rowan County Clerk.”

While Bunning’s ruling is clear, Davis’ attorney, Roger Gannam, said that she still won’t issue any marriage licenses (to gay or straight couples) until Davis has exhausted all of her legal options, which apparently includes tying up the court’s time and tax payers’ money in her fight for what she believes is right. And that’s despite the fact that Bunning carefully went through every one of Davis’ 28 arguments against issuing the licenses and shot every one down. Not because he’s some kind of activist—no, that’s Davis—but because she’s openly violating the laws that she’s sworn to uphold.

What Gannam and Davis seem to believe is that the complaint brought against her isn’t about a marriage license but about forcing homosexuality down her throat and “forcing her to violate her religious liberties,” pointing out that any couple who wants to get gay-married can happily take a long and scenic trip to any of the other counties in the area (ranging from 30 minutes to an hour away) who don’t mind spending an eternity being poked by demons in hell. But that’s not it at all. Gay couples—and I’m making an assumption here—could not give less of a shit about Davis’ liberties. And if she stopped for a second to actually think like a rational human being she might realize that gay marriage isn’t about her (as so many people who oppose same-sex marriage seem to believe it is) but about their right to not feel like second class citizens and get married in the county they live in, work in, and pay property taxes in. They can’t refuse to pay those just because they don’t want to, so why can Davis decide that she isn’t going to do her job? Does she really think she’s setting a precedent and battling for her freedom? Probably, but that’s only because she’s one of those people that believe that no one is more persecuted in this country than conservatives with good traditional values.

And there’s one more thing the judge pointed out: that Davis’ religious liberties should not interfere with the rights of people who want to get married but cannot travel to other parts of the state to do so.

Bunning said that although couples could get marriage licenses elsewhere, “why should they be required to?” He noted the surrounding counties require 30 minutes or one hour of travel and there are many “in this rural region of the state who simply do not have the physical, financial or practical means to travel.”

Bunning also pointed out that signing off on a marriage license does not “constitute speech” and “does not require the county clerk to condone or endorse same-sex marriage on religious or moral grounds.” Which makes sense, because Davis doesn’t have to wish the couples a happy life or say congratulations. Hell, she doesn’t even have to say hello; she just has to do her job and sign off on a piece of paper that has been hard-won by the people who are suing her. That’s why Bunning won’t permit Davis to call herself “absent” due to “religious reasons.” Unless Davis is in the local emergency room fighting off a swarm of locusts who have just descended upon her home, she’s going to just have to deal.

If Davis continues to deny marriage licenses, she can be held in contempt of court and face heavy fines and jail time. At this time, however, Davis will continue collecting a paycheck while not doing her job.

Davis can be contacted via the county clerk’s website, where a personal message from the county clerk informs visitors that she and her office are there to “serve the public in a friendly, professional and efficient manner” and “are constantly striving to upgrade our services in order to better serve you. “ (Emphasis mine.)

UPDATE: As of Thursday morning, Davis’ office is still denying marriage licenses to couples. According to Newsday, the county clerk was not in her office but her deputy clerk stated that the office will continue denying licenses as Davis appeals.

Contact the author at [email protected].

Image via AP

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