This is even funnier than you’d expect it to be. Where else would you see ads from Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’s political opponent last year, whose actual campaign slogan I hesitate to repeat?
Getting serious for a second, and with apologizes for partly repeating myself, a few points to keep in mind:
- Kim Davis didn’t just personally refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses, she ordered her entire staff to stop issuing all marriage licenses, though some deputy clerks apparently wanted to issue them. What about their freedom of religion, or for that matter that of county residents wanting to get married (only a few of whom are same-sex couples)?
- If Davis were to convert to Islam and order her staff to follow Shariah law, would her defenders still think she was merely exercising her First Amendment rights?
- Kentucky law gives county clerks responsibility for issuing marriage licenses. The Kentucky penal code states that “A public servant is guilty of official misconduct in the first degree when, with intent … to deprive another person of a benefit, he knowingly … Refrains from performing a duty imposed upon him by law or clearly inherent in the nature of his office …” (quoted from KRS 522.020; here is a link to a PDF of the Kentucky Criminal Law Manual if you want to read the whole thing in context.) Since a “public servant” is defined as (among other things) “Any public officer or employee of the state or of any political subdivision thereof or of any governmental instrumentality within the state;” it appears that by ordering her deputy clerks not to issue any marriage licenses, Davis was instructing them to commit a crime for which they could be fined and/or sentenced to up to a year’s imprisonment.
- The federal judge who held her in contempt made it clear that Davis can get out of jail simply by agreeing not to interfere with her staff’s performance of their legal duties.
(Updated a bit 2015 September 8, as usual to tweak the wording in an effort to improve clarity.)