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Kentucky clerk cites “God’s authority,” continues to refuse marriage licenses

Kentucky clerk cites “God’s authority,” continues to refuse marriage licenses

Kim Davis is the Rowan County, KY clerk who has refused to issue marriage licenses to any couples since June, when the Supreme Court made same-gender marriages legal throughout the United States. Davis made the stand to avoid issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

Last night, she was running out of legal options to defy the order to begin issuing licenses to all eligible couples, as the Supreme Court declined to take up her case.

But today, Davis continued her refusal to comply with the order. According to the Guardian,

One of the couples who attempted to apply for a license on Tuesday confronted Davis inside the office.

“Under whose authority are you not issuing marriage licenses today?” he asked.

“Under God’s authority,” Davis said.

She then returned to her office, with the doors and blinds closed, and issued a statement refusing to resign:

“To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision,” her statement said.

Davis has been summoned to appear before a federal judge on Thursday morning “to explain why she should not be jailed for contempt,” the Guardian reports. offers this helpful timeline of the case.

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Jay Croft

Some years ago a book was written about an Episcopal priest who, through an inheritance, found himself the owner of a house of prostitution.

His immediate reaction was to shut it down, but he realized that it provided jobs in an impoverished area. So he began learning more about the “workers” and their families.

I never finished the book, as it became boring. But there’s an analogy to Ms. Davis’ situation: she’s between her fundamentalist beliefs and the right of citizens to be issued licenses for marriage, fishing, driving, etc.

By the way, I have absolutely no sympathy for her. As has been pointed out, she’s making herself a martyr and will get rich off the GoFundMe folks.

David Annis

(From an amateur theologian): If we look at the morality of Ms. Davis’ position from her point of view, it may clarify the direction she needs to take in order to be consistent. We (civilization in general) established in the Nuremberg trials that participation in an evil system is an evil in itself, even if the individual participation did not involve personally evil actions. On that basis, (again, only strictly from her point of view) her participation in civil government in the US is now a participation in systemic evil, whether she signs those licenses or not. She is, by her own lights, morally required to resign.

Marshall Scott

Or, to put it another way: she has a belief, and she has a right to act on that belief (or, in this case, not act against it). That is civil disobedience. However, civil disobedience is, however civil, disobedience, and disobedience has consequences. She is not freed from the consequences of her civil disobedience simply because she identifies her belief as religious.

Susan Yarborough

My, my. Are we really putting Ms. Davis’ plight in the category of resisting the Nuremberg Laws and, as one other commentator did, slavery? She’s not protecting people from the Gestapo. She’s refusing to sign marriage licenses. No matter how hard one tries to equate same-sex marriage to systemic evils like slavery and anti-Semitism (particularly, ironic, since LGBT people went to the concentration camps with Jews and the Rom), Ms. Davis is not trying to save Western civilization. So, what would happen if she woke up tomorrow and changed her mind?

The people who really lived by their consciences are the same-sex couples who committed themselves openly to each other before homosexuality was decriminalized. They risked everything: family ties, friendships, jobs, homes, and in some cases, their very lives. Ms. Davis’s conscience and theirs don’t even belong in the same sentence.

David Annis

Please do not misunderstand me. When I work through complex issues, I often find some clarity by forcing an idea to a logical conclusion. Ms. Davis sees herself as part of an immoral system. If she believes that her resistance will will somehow cause the US Supreme Court to reverse itself, then she should go quietly to jail and stay there. However, if she believes that she is only defending herself from moral pollution, she must separate herself from the entire system. This is the same moral choice that any low-level functionary must make when they discover that they are in a system of evil. (Remember that I am only looking at this from Ms. Davis’ point of view; I do not see the US marriage laws as a system of evil. She does.).

Wayne Helmly

I have compassion for Ms. Davis because it appears to me that she is being used as a pawn by her attorneys, the Liberty Counsel. This ultra-right group specializes in anti-LGBT litigation. It is also a tax-exempt nonprofit “Christian” corporation that solicits donors.

A middle-aged lady going to jail ostensibly for following Jesus may send thousands of heterosexists for their checkbooks (made payable to the Liberty Counsel) and their lynch mobs.

Good attorneys rarely (if ever) advise their clients to disobey a federal judge. She is a victim of sorts, too.

Paul Woodrum

Ms Davis isn’t too good on following “God’s Law” either. She’s had three divorces and is on her fourth husband. I think her refusal to issue marriage certificates to same gender couples comes under what Jesus had in mind in last Sunday’s Gospel when he called the Pharisees hypocrites.

Susan Yarborough

Isn’t the whole point that Ms. Davis isn’t willing to take the consequences of living by her conscience? She expects to defy the law and keep her job, which in fact requires her to follow the law. Martyrs, fool or not, went to the stake, the block, the firing squad or worse for the sake of conscience. No matter how excited we get, Ms. Davis will not be forced to choose any of those. She may lose a cushy job, and if she does, contributions to her Go Fund Me site (if she doesn’t have one now, she will) could keep her very comfortable. What does she really risk? The media won’t even discuss the irony of a thrice-divorced woman defending “traditional” marriage against the “unholiness” of same-sex unions. Nor will they examine the nature of the so-called Christian beliefs she claims to uphold. What happens when the media get bored with her?There’s her real danger. If she holds out too long, she could lose her job and the contributions too. Hardly a form of martyrdom worth a stained glass window.

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