Rowan County, KY Clerk Kim Davis sues governor over right to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples

Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis, who may in fact be on her fourth marriage, has sued Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear over his executive order requiring county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision affirming marriage equality.

You’ll remember Kim Davis from the viral video showing her refusing to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple last month. In her lawsuit, Davis claims that her religious beliefs entitle her to refuse to participate in same-sex marriages, despite her status as a public official.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Late Tuesday, Davis filed a lawsuit against Beshear in federal district court. She blamed the governor for instructing all 120 of the state’s county clerks to comply with this summer’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage.

Beshear’s stance left dissenting county clerks vulnerable to lawsuits, including two that she currently faces, filed by groups of her constituents, Davis said. U.S. District Judge David Bunning is expected to rule in these cases in coming days.

You read that right. According to Davis, instructing a state government to comply with the Supreme Court of the United States — our country’s final arbiter of what is legal and what isn’t —  is itself illegal. Because she thinks the Bible says they’re wrong. So there.

Kim Davis, screenshot via YouTube

Kim Davis, screenshot via YouTube

Davis’s lawsuit could serve as a test for how far Religious Freedom Restoration Acts extend into the public sphere. Kentucky has such a law on the books — passed over Beshear’s veto — that protects “sincerely held religious beliefs” from government interference without a compelling state interest. One would think that, on general principle, requiring public officials to perform the public functions assigned to them would be a compelling state interest, but Davis disagrees.

While Davis is the plaintiff in this case, she is the defendant in multiple lawsuits filed by couples in Kentucky who have been denied marriage licenses by her. If Davis wins her lawsuit, she could force the state to pay the legal fees she is incurring in the multiple cases being brought against her.

Once again, since this somehow bears repeating, it’s patently obvious that Davis’s claim has nothing to do with religious liberty and everything to do with Christian privilege. I’m not sure if there are any Jewish or Muslim clerks in Kentucky, but I am absolutely sure that if they refused to execute a similar law over their sincerely-held religious beliefs, Davis and Christian conservatives like her wouldn’t be coming to their defense.

How do I know? Because they’re actively fighting against religious freedom for members of other faiths — particularly Muslims — every chance they get.

Just because members of the Christian faith have had the government on their side for a very long time doesn’t mean that they ever should have. And it doesn’t mean that they get to decide which laws to follow, especially when it is literally their job to execute the law.

To sue your employer for asking you to do your job takes a special kind of chutzpah. Then again, it’s the same kind that it takes to claim ardent devotion to the sanctity of marriage while on your fourth spouse.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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80 Responses to “Rowan County, KY Clerk Kim Davis sues governor over right to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples”

  1. Patricia says:

    She is a first class moron.

  2. BarryMayor says:

    In this case, the courts are her superiors, and today they directed those in her department to issue licenses and they agreed. Virtually everyone has a superior.

  3. BarryMayor says:

    I know nothing of the circumstances surrounding her divorces. However, if you were to read Matthew 19:9, you would see that if your spouse commits adultery, you are free to remarry.

  4. HRS3 says:

    Actually the Bible says that if you divorce and remarry you are guilty of adultery and if you marry a divorced person or have sex with them you are also guilty of adultery. Technically, Kim Davis is an adulteress 3x over. Maybe we should now follow her Bible’s instructions in Leviticus and stone her to death. Just doing what God ordered, right?

  5. HRS3 says:

    She claims that the marriages were before she found God so they don’t count since they were done before she was a believer. However, now that she is a believer her own Bible tells her that it is an affront to God to rebel against her government and she will bring judgement upon herself. She’s a hypocrite bigot either way you look at it.

  6. HRS3 says:

    Actually, her post is an elected one. Its going to take a little more than firing her or going over her head. The court will have to intervene depending on Kentucky law.

  7. HRS3 says:

    Before posting one of 1000 other Bible verses to contradict me, that was tongue in cheek. My point was that Ms. Davis is claiming that she is following God, but is only cherry picking the parts of the Bible she wants to follow. She’s a bigot who hides behind a cross.

  8. HRS3 says:

    Kim Davis’ very own Bible states in Romans 13:1-2, 1 Everyone must submit himself to the
    governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

    Guess what, Kim? You brought judgement on yourself by rebelling against what God put in place and now you’re in jail. God tried to warn you, but you only read the parts of the Bible that you wanted to read. Should have read the whole thing.

  9. BarryMayor says:

    You are confused about the way government works. This isn’t hard. Even if it’s a tiny jurisdiction, she has superiors.She has a superior, and that person can supercede whatever direction she gives. You are going about this all wrong.

    Also, the ISIS comparison is nuts. She’s not committing genocide.

  10. BigHobbit says:

    Every other person in her office is HER employee, and she is preventing ANYONE from issuing ANY marriage licenses.
    Her actions have the same basis as ISIS – my religion gives me a right to inflict my religious views on everyone.

  11. BigHobbit says:

    She doesn’t HAVE a boss. She is an elected official, and every other person in her office is HER employee. And she is using her Sharia law religious higher power to prevent her entire office from issuing ANY marriage licenses. The Governor AND the AGs have all told her to comply with the law. All the courts, including the Supreme court, have told her to comply with the law.
    If she WOULD have delegated it, there wouldn’t have been an issue.
    This Ayatollah has announced that HER version of God should hold all the taxpayers in her county, instead of the real law, the real constitution.


  12. BarryMayor says:

    Very easy fix. Her boss, whoever that is, could simply order another clerk to do it. Done. Problem solved. She’s a clerk, not the city manager or mayor. She’s not the problem. Her boss is. You are going about this entirely wrong.

  13. BigHobbit says:

    This clerk is preventing the whole office from serving ANY couple from getting a marriage license. She will NOT allow another clerk.

    She is instituting her own Sharia law, a traitor to the country and everything it stands for.


  14. BarryMayor says:

    Or, let another clerk do it, just like they do when she’s on vacation or sick. This shouldn’t be a problem.

  15. BarryMayor says:

    You can remarry if your spouse committed adultery.

  16. BarryMayor says:

    That’s not accurate.

  17. BarryMayor says:

    First of all, you have to first be married before you can commit adultery, and if you’re applying for a marriage license, you’re obviously not – unless the person is a polygamist. So, your question should be, does she issue licenses to polygamists? If so, you’re right, she’s a hypocrite. The act of getting married isn’t a sin otherwise, Biblically speaking.

  18. theblacktie says:

    She is obviously discriminating here. I wonder who would have been successful denying Kim Davis her 2nd or 3rd or 4th marriage licences. Cause there seems to be something in the good book ’bout that.

  19. Lucy Gillam says:

    Pretty much any religious person is a cafeteria {insert religion here}. The ones that aren’t are the ones we call fanatics. The issue here isn’t just that she’s breaking some of the codes of Christian scripture (and/or Hebrew scripture), but that she’s basing the actions on a concept while living outside of (much clearer, more specific) scripture on the same subject. She is ignore direct clarity “spoken” by Jesus her savior, whereas the men wanting to get married are breaking a few obscure and debatable verses by much less important (to Christianity) people. It’s a perfect speck/log situation.

  20. Marsha Lewis says:

    If this cow can get 4 men to marry her then there is hope for EVERY woman. But then again, I shouldn’t be counting inbreeding.

  21. Lucy Gillam says:

    Can we please not make this about her weight? On behalf of fat chicks everywhere: we don’t like her, either.

  22. Lucy Gillam says:

    The fact that (some) Christians feel they are oppressed when they are unable to impose their faith on others is exactly why we should use the word “privilege.” Christians are so used to being not just the default but the dominant religion – to having their holy days honored by the secular government (Sundays, Christmas), to having their holy book used in secular courts, to having their prayers said in public schools, to having their symbols displayed in government buildings…you get the idea – that when these things that few if any other religions get are taken away, they genuinely feel that they are being singled out for oppression rather than just being treated the same as other religions. And could that sentence be any longer? But that is the very definition of privilege: having benefits that other groups in that category don’t receive being so normalized that you don’t even realize they’re benefits.

  23. alwaysright says:

    I hope those religious folks who think pulling the religious card will work here should consider this…
    I’m Jewish, I hate Christians so I won’t wait on them, I’m Muslim , I hate jews, I won’t wait on them..
    Religious freedom gives us the right to practice the religion we choose, it does not allow us to force those beliefs on others… Ultimately this will back fire on religious folks and take more away from them they took for granted all along..
    Personally, I think all religions should be taxed !

  24. alwaysright says:

    Who would marry that side of beef 4 times ? She is disgusting !
    I can’t wait to see this lardo in jail !

  25. R Reily says:

    Everyone, that is, who doesn’t face an obstructionist at the clerk of court’s office.

  26. R Reily says:

    It’s not mean if it’s true

  27. R Reily says:

    Further, divorce is against her version of the bible. But her office no doubts processes those documents.

  28. R Reily says:

    She’s probably looking at the big picture – knowing she’ll lose she can then go on the same lecture circuit that Palun frequents

  29. BarryMayor says:

    Does nobody else work there? What do they do when she’s sick or goes on vacation? How many people does it take to issue a single license? Do they have so many thousands of same sex marriage requests that they need an army of people to fill them and they can’t spare her? Why can’t someone else take 5 minutes and issue the license to those people and be done with it?

  30. Bruce Kingfield says:

    They sure aren’t to follow biblical teachings, since she has been married four times. But, as most crazy religious types are, she has probably not really read or understood the bible, except to hear what it says from others and look up bible verses now and again.

  31. Bruce Kingfield says:

    Look at her picture. Wouldn’t a dude be prettier?

  32. Bruce Kingfield says:

    So the adultress (if she looked at the Bible she claims guides her), doesn’t like others’ marriages? She’s going to hell according to the Bible, so I don’t know why she’s trying to get on God’s good side now.

  33. Bruce Kingfield says:

    They must have come to their senses, or the drugs wore off or something.

  34. Bob White says:

    She is most likely an adulteress three times over if she has been divorced and then remarried three times. Adulterers should be barred from public office!!!! That would still be better than being stoned to death.—(Mark 10:12) “And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she commits adultery.”

  35. Marsha Lewis says:

    If that cow can marry 4 times then there’s hope for everyone.

  36. Michael C says:

    They are all out getting Gay married in poly/cotton blend outfits !

  37. Michael C says:

    Oh, but that’s different, she had really good reasons to get divorced 3 times and marry 4 times.

  38. Michael C says:

    You can bet that many of these turds would gladly go so far as to kill LGBT people if they thought they could get away with it without having to be arrested and put on trial for murder.

  39. Michael C says:

    That they get to decide who to pick to discriminate against and not be legally culpable if their victims decide to sue them.
    That they can tell anyone they like “You can’t do such and such, but I’m allowed to do what ever the begeezus I want cause my BuyBull tells me so.

  40. Michael C says:

    But we haven’t seen the pics of those men either. Though at least 3 of them were smart enough to get away from her.

  41. Michael C says:

    She’s obviously a cafeteria religionist Great comment by the way

  42. Michael C says:

    Good article on the Bigot Queen (3 times divorced,4 times married) who thinks her firmly held religious beliefs should allow her to refuse Gays their legal rights to a marriage license.

  43. John Citizen says:

    I assume she wears clothes made of different types of fabric and eats shrimp, however.

  44. John Citizen says:

    What if I worked at a prison in a state with the death penalty but my “sincerely held religious beliefs” led me to oppose capital punishment? Could I insist on keeping my job but refusing to take part in any action connected to an execution? What if my “sincerely held religious beliefs” included staunch opposition to pollution? If I worked for, say, the State of Texas–with its horrible record on environmental protection–could I refuse to do anything related to oil? You could go on and on and likely the right wing would say these people are nuts and should be fired.

  45. John Citizen says:

    Kinda looks like a Nazi salute.

  46. John Citizen says:

    Please, lets not start calling it “Christian privilege”–I’m not a Christian but I don’t feel repressed. My ability to enjoy the opportunities of America are in no way limited. However, whether I was a Christian or a follower of the Spaghetti Monster, I believe in our 1st Amendment and the separation of Church and State it establishes. I’m also just flabbergasted at this woman’s arrogance. Perhaps I’m wrong–maybe we should use the word “privilege.” She certainly feels a sense of privilege or entitlement. She believes she can actually refuse the duties of her public service job out of “religious belief” . . . and still keep that job & paycheck. She’s just opting out. How nice.

    If public servants were told they couldn’t wear yarmulkes, headscarves or crucifixes–none of which impede their ability to file paperwork–THAT would be a case of infringement of religious liberty. But she is simply refusing to do her job. If she can’t issue marriage licenses, she can’t be a county clerk. simple as that.

    What she would like, apparently, is to impose her beliefs on the rest of us–despite the fact that her beliefs run contrary to the Supreme Court’s ruling. This is exactly the same as if, in the 1950s following Brown v. Board, a local official simply refused to allow black students into a previously segregated school. Wait . . . that did happen . . . and we sent in the 101st Airborne to rectify the situation. Well, at least in this case they’ll be able to be home for dinner . . . the 101st is based in Kentucky–they can go shut this woman down and be home to tuck the kids in for bed.

  47. BigHobbit says:

    Do your job. Don’t do your job, resign or get fired.
    Don’t expect the taxpayer to pay you to NOT do your job.

  48. kuvasz says:

    I think that you are missing the point.

    Any person who falls back defending homophobia by using the shield of “sincerely held religious beliefs” ought to be able to articulate these religious views by pointing to the dogma of their faith. For Christians who hold to strictures of their holy book their god commands to kill these people. That is where the conversation ought to start.

    Their sincerely held religious beliefs are to kill gays or what? Their god does not call for discriminating against these people in the workplace or preventing them from marriage. Their god calls for their death. If that is not their “sincerely held religious belief” they are going to have to show me in their holy book that their god tells them that best way to deal with gay people is to deny them getting a wedding cake or marrying.

    Since there is no such passage their homophobia is clearly cultural, not religious.

  49. bleeperz says:

    Doesn’t matter if they’re defined as “religious” views. It is her actions to deny gay licenses that aren’t in accordance with the Supreme Court’s ruling. The law and the Bible are not the same thing.

  50. TedCrewz says:

    I heard she’s been married 4 times? Is that true?

  51. Richard Allen says:

    Davis is a lying, hypocrite, like most bible thumpers, this has nothing to do
    with her religious beliefs. It is her own hatred/fear of gays that is
    going on here. If it was really about her religious beliefs, she would
    also not be issuing marriage licenses to adulterers (anyone who has sex
    outside of marriage) and many other supposed sins in the bible. She
    should be fired!

  52. TruthNotReligion says:

    Born-agin, Bible-believin’ . . . Christian . . KIM DAVIS.

    . . . married four times, divorced three times . . . now THAT’s a Christian who “isn’t afraid of commitment”:

  53. Dick_Woodcock says:

    Texas’ AG Ken Paxton is being subpoenaed by a federal judge for a contempt of court hearing because he refused to issue a same-sex licence.

    So, good luck with your law suit Ms. Davis…I don’t think it’s going to go very well for you.

  54. Phil says:

    Liberty Counsel, and their track record is dismal.

  55. Butch1 says:

    My guess as well is that she isn’t paying for it. ;-)

  56. dcinsider says:

    I believe she’s an elected official playing to her base. We really need to ignore her and let the courts deal with her. We won. Time to move on.

  57. BigHobbit says:

    You have the right to practice your religion.
    You do not have the right to practice your religion on others.
    Public officials all swear to defend the constitution and uphold the laws. A clerks job is not to interpret the law, rather to follow the law. If you have a religious disability, you need to get a different job.

  58. gratuitous says:

    I think it’s Liberty Lobby or something like that, some fundagelical bunch of lawyers out of Liberty University who have sadly infiltrated the bench at all levels and who render some of the kookiest rulings. I’d bet a nickel that Davis isn’t paying a dime out of her own pocket for this most frivolous of lawsuits.

  59. wayne says:

    Oh, the irony….a biblical adulteress (married multiple times) sues for having her “religious beliefs” on marriage impeded…….

  60. Phranqlin says:

    If she can’t in good conscience issue marriage licenses to same sex couples, the solution is simple. Transfer to another position or resign! If her religion prevents her from doing her job, she needs to find another one.

  61. BeccaM says:

    According to the Bible, if you’ve been divorced, you’re not allowed to remarry. If the woman isn’t a virgin, she’s not allowed to marry, but she could conceivably be sold off as an indentured servant or slave. If the woman happens to own any property, both it and she become the bound chattel property of whichever man deigns to marry her. And again, according to the Bible in very clear instructions which were never actually rescinded, men are free to marry as many wives and acquire as many concubines, female servants and slaves as he likes (and can afford). Monogamy was a Roman custom, adopted by Christians some 300 years or so after this Yeshua fellow allegedly lived.

    While certain parts of the Bible appear to condemn male homosexuality (although different translations disagree on this), there is not a single word saying that God specifically prohibits secular same-sex marriage.

    Y’know, there are a lot of Catholics and Baptists in Kentucky. By their own creeds’ definitions, marriages performed outside their own churches aren’t supposed to be ‘real’.

    “Christian privilege” is the correct term here, and it’s not even consistent Christianity but an ala carte version that picks and chooses whatever the believer conveniently wants to do and gives the imprimatur of divine permission from an unprovable but by definition irrefutable authority.

    There’s a kind of childish petulance here, with assertions of “But DADDY says I can do what I want” — only the ‘daddy’ in question hasn’t been verifiably seen…well, ever. And the notes supposedly left behind by him are in a curiously familiar handwriting.

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  63. BigHobbit says:

    She swore an oath to uphold the law. She doesn’t get to decide which laws to uphold.
    Either do the job, or don’t do the job – just don’t expect to be paid to not do the job.

  64. If she was a pastor at a church, she would be free do discriminate against whomever she wished.

    But she is paid by the TAXPAYERS to provide marriage services to couples who are legally eligible to marry. She doesn’t get to turn away couples just because she doesn’t like them. If she cannot fulfill her job description, she should be replaced by someone who CAN.

  65. Glen Thompson says:

    From the picture I can’t believe there are 4 men who wanted to marry her. Oops, sorry for the shallow comment.

  66. MoonDragon says:

    The requirements should be at least as rigorous as those to obtain conscientious objector status.

  67. MoonDragon says:

    You, madam, are totally free to get another job. I may be getting into my dotage here, but I seem to remember that followers of the Nazarene were told to expect suffering for their beliefs. I think being denied government support for not doing a job comes under that heading. What do you want, a welfare check?

  68. rmthunter says:

    This could be interesting — it’s certain to have high entertainment value, at least. Assume that the decision, whatever it is, will be appealed, which will go to the 6th Circuit, which gave us that ludicrous decision in the consolidated cases from Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee that led to the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell. One hopes that the 6th will empanel a group of judges that is actually willing to address the issues.

  69. kuvasz says:

    Has anyone articulated these “sincerely held religious beliefs,” other than to discriminate against gay people? I want someone to tell me what their “sincerely held religious beliefs” are.

  70. Butch1 says:

    Then throw her a snake and let it decide. ;-) Does she get to live or die.

  71. Butch1 says:

    I want to know who’s paying for her “legal defense?” She’s doing an awful lot of “suing” lately.

  72. Indigo says:

    It’s easy to forget we live in a country where such superstitions are the facts of some peoples’ lives.

  73. The_Fixer says:

    “Cuz my religions says God says I shouldn’t do that” is not a valid reason to bring suit.

    This chucklehead needs to be dismissed from her employment immediately.

  74. Doug105 says:

    Christian privilege vs reality, let’s call for every christian or religious judge to recuse themselves.

  75. nicho says:

    We are talking about snake handlers here.

  76. Indigo says:

    “Religious freedom” as an ironic category doth apply to thee but not ever to me.

  77. Indigo says:

    It does seem odd but . . . Kentucky.

  78. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    She must not extend her religious beliefs to everything in The Bible. I guess she is a cafeteria type Christian.

    Matthew 19:

    8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

    10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”

    11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given.”

  79. Mark J says:

    Where are the food safety inspectors refusing to certify that all-you-can-eat shrimp buffet bar because their Bible and their religion requires it?

  80. Rick Nolte says:

    Ultimately it will come down to her having to prove her “religious convictions” all while living in her fourth marriage. Any of the religious nutjobs care to explain that one?

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