Rowan County (Ky.) Clerk Kim Davis thrust herself into a hot-button issue with little room for compromise: Should personal religious beliefs trump Constitutional law?
Davis, a devout Christian, was jailed Sept. 3 for refusing to issue marriage licenses to two same-sex couples and two straight couples, even though, as an elected official, she now is required to do so.
Davis knows well the transforming power of faith in God. In her own statement regarding marriage, she says, in part:
“… I am forgiven and I love my Lord and must be obedient to Him and to the Word of God. I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage. To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience.”
Did she see this conflict coming? Davis, a Democrat, became a devout Christian four years ago, and won election as county clerk last year, with her term beginning in January of this year. She previously served as a deputy clerk for 27 years, so she’s intimately familiar with how the office operates.
Perhaps she didn’t see it coming. But when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage on June 26, her job description changed. Davis is not the only county clerk who opposes the ruling, but her public defiance brought headlines in her direction.
Good for her. Very few people have the guts to stand up for what they believe in these days. Davis is an excellent example of what happens when people do, especially on religious grounds.
Having made a stand, are there consequences? Yes, and she must accept them. She spent nearly a week in jail in defiance of a court order requiring her to issue the licenses. The judge released her because her deputies were issuing them.
Five of the six deputies in her office are willing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples (the exception is her son), and Davis has said she will not stand in their way – as long as her name is not on the licenses.
Davis returned to work today. One lesbian couple today sought a marriage license. One of her deputies issued it – without Davis’ name on it. The license was signed by a “notary public,” the (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal reported.
The couple said they aren’t concerned over its validity since Attorney General Jack Conway and others have said the forms are legitimate, the Courier-Journal reported.
Davis, an elected official, cannot be fired. Should she resign?
This isn’t a simple question. On the surface, if she is unable to fulfill the written job description, then she should find a line of work that supports her views.
Does that mean any person with religious convictions should avoid public office? I hope not. This country needs individuals willing to take a stand on tough issues. Saying anything goes, including in marriage, is one stand. Supporting limits is another stand. We need this debate – without the hatred. On both sides.
Look at gun control. Some say anything goes; others seek limits. Religious people aren’t the only ones seeking a solution.
Perhaps Davis should resign. There are other public offices she could pursue that would allow her to vote her conscience – by trying to change laws that she opposes. That is how democracy in the United States is supposed to work.