September 2, 2015

Thoughts on County Clerk Kim Davis

My patience with elected Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis ran out long ago. She has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and has defied a federal court order to do so. Her legal options have pretty much run out, the Supreme Court having refused to stay the order of the lower court. Davis claims that her Christianity demands that she not participate in same-sex marriage. Yet she has issued marriage licenses to divorced people (and has been divorced multiple times herself), which seems more clearly to violate the Christian principles she so boldly proclaims.

Davis will be in federal court tomorrow, and, one hopes, will face fines or jail time for contempt of court. She surely has shown contempt for the courts and our system of government. Personally, I believe she should go to jail, as members of the “Christian” right will, no doubt, send Davis money to pay any fine that might be assessed; they cannot get her out of jail.

The bizarre case of Kim Davis was inevitable. The ill-conceived Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which basically privileges religious rights above all other civil rights and even above the government’s ability to enact reasonable neutral laws, has allowed the religious right to methodically gain special privileges for religious extremists, culminating in the ludicrous Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision.

The free exercise of religion should not empower religious people to impose their beliefs on others. Nor should it allow them to refuse to perform their jobs merely because they don’t approve of doing what their jobs require. Davis is required to apply the law, not to decide what the law should be, which is, as they say, above her pay grade. She has protested that the understanding of marriage has changed since she took office. Well, duh. The law changes, and county clerks are required to apply the law as it is, not as it was or as they want it to be.

If Kim Davis cannot perform her duties as clerk, she should resign and find employment that does not offend her religious sensibilities. Perhaps a hefty fine or jail time will change her tune, though I doubt it. Davis wants to be a martyr, no doubt encouraged by Liberty Counsel, which is representing her. (The Liberty Counsel agenda is made clear on its Web site: “Restoring the Culture by Advancing Religious Freedom, the Sanctity of Human Life, and the Family.)

If Kim Davis wants to be a martyr, we should accommodate her. She will become a heroine of the lunatic right, but reasonable people, including mainstream Christians, will be happy to see the body politic reclaim its right to the rule of law.


  1. If Kim Davis wants to be a martyr, we should... her a one-way ticket to Syria. Go preach Jeeeezus to ISIS, Kimmie! You GO, girl!

  2. I think Gene Volokh's piece in the WP is helpful in framing the current legal status of concerns about accommodation.

    1. Thanks, Bruce, for pointing to the Washington Post article. To me, it illustrates how this country has gone too far in privileging religious rights above other civil rights.

  3. As George Takei wrote, Kim Davis is not Martin Luther King, she is George Wallace.
    Wallace tried to block others from exercising their basic civil rights - all done in the "Bible" belt.


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