Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who went to jail rather than issue — or allow her deputies to issue — marriage licenses to same-sex couples, has returned to work. Despite attempting to claim victory in a statement to reporters, Davis has basically relented in her fight to ensure that her office does not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Davis apparently decided to stand down, and will no longer forbid her deputies to issue the marriage licenses.
While Davis suggested that marriage licenses issued without her authorization may be invalid, the Kentucky governor and attorney general — both likely more knowledgable than Davis — say the licenses are valid.
The Wampler-Collinses’ marriage license, as well as those issued while Davis sat in jail, show that Davis and her supporters have again failed to stop marriage equality from becoming a reality. Throwing sand in the gears of the implementation of the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision is a desperate, last ditch attempt to stop by other means, what they failed to stop through legitimate means.
Despite what Davis and her attorney believe, the Supreme Court — nominated by a democratically elected president, and approved by a democratically elected senate — acted well within its constitutional authority in deciding Obergefell. Surveys showed that the majority of Americans were ready for the result, marriage equality for same-sex couples in all 50 states — including Kentucky. More recent surveys show that the majority of Americans believe elected officials like Davis should enforce the law as interpreted by the Court.
A Rasmussen Reports poll showed that just 26 percent of likely US voters think an elected official like Davis should be able to ignore a federal court ruling she disagrees with for religious reasons, while 66 percent think the official should carry out the law as the court has interpreted it.
A Huffington Post/YouGov poll showed that 56 percent of respondents supported Judge David Bunning’s decision to jail Davis for contempt, and 52 percent said that elected officials should be required to perform the duties of their position even if it conflicted with their religious beliefs, while only 30 percent disagreed.
According to a new Washington Post/ABC poll, 63 percent of Americans think Davis should be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Nearly three-quarters — 74 percent — said it’s more important to treat everyone equally than to accommodate someone’s religious beliefs when the two principles conflict — a view which held across majorities of self-identified Democrats, Republicans, liberals, and conservatives.
Think of it: most people in this country are (rightly) worried about the future of religious liberty. But if “religious liberty” comes to mean in the public’s mind “the right of elected officials to refuse to obey the law when their conscience tells them not to,” we Christians are going to lose down the road, and we are going to lose big.
While she probably saw the billboard, Davis may not have seen herself mocked in a new commercial for the Tide To Go stain remover pen, in which a “church lady” type confronts a gay couple outside a church on their wedding day, declares “I won’t let you blemish the sanctity of marriage!”, brandishes a Tide To Go pen, removes a stain from one man’s shirt, and pronounces them “flawless.”
And Davis probably missed the critique directed at her by Miss Mississippi, Hanna Roberts, during the Miss America pageant. “Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis was jailed for defying the Supreme Court’s order to issue same-sex marriage licenses. She claims the order violates her religious freedom. Does it?,” a judge asked. Robert’s delivered a succinct, 20-second takedown of Davis: “It absolutely does not violate her religious freedom. That is her job that she was voted into doing, and that law is a federal law throughout the rest of the country. So, yes, she did violate the law there. Thank you.”
What conservatives attempting to distance themselves from Davis forget is that the seeds for her crusade were planted by the Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, which conservatives cheered just a few short years ago. Conservatives now distancing themselves from Davis are like mad scientists from old-fashioned horror movies, running away from the monsters they themselves created.