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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

God vs SCOTUS: One County Clerk's Dilemma

Defiant Clerk Kim Davis
Here's a problem. Just as marriage equality swept the nation, one state at a time over the past few years, culminating in two landmark SCOTUS decisions making marriage equality a constitutional right, at least one county clerk in Kentucky whose responsibility it is to issue marriage certificates, is refusing to do so despite orders from a federal court.

The Rowan County Clerk, Kim Davis, who won the job her mother held for nearly 4-decades by a scant 20-something votes, had this to say about her predicament:
To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God's definition of a 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.
Two words: just-resign. Preferably before the media eats you alive.

It may be too late for that. Kim Davis is trending all over Twitter and other social media. It is now common knowledge that she has been married four times; the height of irony if you were to ask us here at the Law Blogger, as this court clerk imposes her personal religious judgment on same-sex marriage applicants from her community.

Last week, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal court injunction directing Davis to issue the marriage licenses. Yesterday morning, the SCOTUS denied Davis' last-ditch attempt to further stay the court order in the federal class action lawsuit filed against Davis and Rowan County.

Despite the High Court's order, and with the white hot spotlights of local and national media in her face, Davis refused to issue a marriage license to a same sex couple today. She has been summoned to the federal court Thursday morning to show cause why she should not be held in contempt.

Without a resignation or a heartfelt promise to obey the law, Davis will likely spend Labor Day weekend in a jail cell.


Well, that one wasn't difficult to predict. The federal judge tried to fashion a compromise resolution -if you can call it that- by asking whether Davis would allow her deputy clerks to execute marriage licenses to same-sex applicants. When the answer was a resounding "no", the federal judge had no choice but to find Davis in contempt. Federal Judge David Bunning selected incarceration over a fine, pointing out that Davis would be able to pay any fine from her supporters' coffers, and remarking that, "the idea of natural law superseding this court's authority would be a dangerous precedent, indeed."

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