As pretty much everybody has heard, the clerk of Rowan County Kentucky, Kim Davis, is now in jail and her office has resumed issuing marriage licenses. Here are a few interesting facts you might have missed about the case:
While Davis objected specifically to same-sex marriage, she had blocked anyone in her office from issuing marriage licenses altogether (not just for same-sex couples) and as a result was sued by both straight and gay couples.
According to Shannon Ragland of The Kentucky Trial Court Review, County Attorney Cecil Watkins said that deputy clerks who had wanted to follow the law and issue marriage licenses did not do so because they were afraid of Davis. In court yesterday all deputy clerks except Davis’s son promised to follow the law, though at least one expressed personal opposition to same-sex marriage and said it was very difficult for her.
U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning, who found Davis in contempt, nonetheless told her he would not send her to jail if she would simply agree not to interfere with her office’s compliance with the law. She refused.
Judge Bunning, appointed by George W Bush, is a native of Kentucky and son of Jim Bunning, a Hall of Fame major league pitcher who also served 1999-2011 as a Republican U.S. senator from that state. Judge Bunning told Davis in court that as a Roman Catholic he has strong religious views as well, but like her he had take an oath to abide by the law, not impose his personal beliefs on others. Since ruling against Davis he has reportedly received death threats and is under the protection of U.S. marshals.
It’s worth noting that while Davis and her supporters claim her religious liberty is being violated, her attempt to impose her personal views on an entire county suggests that she’s less concerned about the religious liberty of other people.
Davis, a Democrat, was last elected to her post in 2014. Her term runs through 2019. As an elected official she cannot be removed from office except by impeachment, so unless she resigns or agrees to obey the law and her oath of office, she could remain in jail more than three years until her term expires.
She might face additional jail time as well. Davis’s refusal to follow court orders and the directives of the state’s governor appears to constitute first degree official misconduct under the Kentucky Penal Code, which prescribes a $500 fine and a year in jail for any official who “refrains from performing a duty imposed upon him by law or clearly inherent in the nature of his office.”
According to US News and World Report and other sources, Davis is currently on her fourth marriage. A few months after her first marriage ended she gave birth to twins fathered by a different man. She then married a second husband (who adopted the twins) but divorced him to marry a third husband, the twins’ biological father, only to divorce him and remarry her second husband. However, all this was apparently before she joined the Apostolic Church, a Pentecostal denomination.
I’m not the first person to ask this, but how would the folks defending Davis react to an official who, for personal religious reasons, and in violation of the law, blocked the issuing of pistol or concealed-carry permits?