Kentucky’s Kim Davis, arguably the nation’s most infamous county clerk, was let out of jail last week after defying court rulings, her oath of office, and a court order. U.S. District Judge David Bunning specifically ordered the anti-gay clerk, however, that her religious beliefs notwithstanding, she must not “interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.”
Would Davis comply with that order? Her right-wing lawyer suggested Davis might not – a scenario that might put the clerk back in jail – which made Davis’ first day back at work this morning of particular interest. MSNBC’s Emma Margolin reported on the latest from Rowan County:
Faced with what she called an “impossible choice” to abide by either a federal court order or her conscience, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis said Monday that she would not give her authority to issue marriage licenses in Rowan County. But, she added, if her deputies felt compelled to act outside of her authority and issue the licenses, she would not stand in the way.The statement, delivered as the embattled clerk returned to work less than a week after being released from jail, indicated that Davis would not again shut down the marriage licensing functions of her office altogether – as she had done in June, when the U.S. Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land.
In theory, this may look like the end of the controversy. Under the office’s original policy, couples Davis approved of could receive marriage licenses; couples Davis found morally objectionable could not. As of this morning, however, every couple legally eligible to get married can get a license – Davis won’t be the one handing them out, but her subordinates will comply with the law and weddings can continue.
There is, however, a hitch.
In Rowan County, marriage licenses are supposed to be issued with the name and title of the elected clerk on the certificate. In other words, at least technically, licenses are supposed to have Davis’ name on them.
But because she has a problem with the law – and, evidently, gay couples – Davis said this morning, “To affix my name or authoritative title on a certificate that authorizes marriage that conflicts with God’s definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman violates my deeply held religious convictions and conscience.”
So, as the MSNBC piece explains, “Rather than allow marriage licenses be granted with her name and title on the certificate – as required by Kentucky law – Davis said any license issued by her office would instead state: ‘Issued pursuant to a federal court order.’”
State Attorney General Jack Conway (D) seems to think the altered marriage licenses are legitimate, but his office’s judgment seemed less than definitive.
And just in case this weren’t quite complicated enough, Davis and her legal representatives sued Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) this morning, saying it’s unlawful for the governor to force her to do the job she was elected to do, since her responsibilities conflict with her religious beliefs.
Long story short: this one is long from over.