[UPDATE: Federal judge David Bunning has ordered that Davis can be released from jail since five of the six deputy clerks have been issuing licenses to all qualified people and “provided that she shall not interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.” You can read the judge’s order here. It is not clear as yet if Davis agrees to those conditions. She is probably checking with Jesus who is wondering why the hell this woman keeps bugging him with her petty concerns.]
Rowan County clerk Kim Davis continues to be in jail for contempt for defying a federal judge’s order to issue marriage licenses. She has asked the governor of Kentucky to release her from jail so that, according to her lawyers, “she can do her job”, but he has refused to do so, which seems appropriate since not doing her job is what landed her in jail in the first place.
While the reality-based community thinks that government employees should simply carry out what the law says is their duty and not assume that their personal views take precedence over everything else, Davis is seen as a hero and martyr to anti-gay Christians. Her supporters have even rallied outside the judge’s home and called for the sheriff to arrest him for “contempt of the Court of Almighty God and the constitutions of both Kentucky and the United States” and for “putting this precious little girl” in jail. Referring to the 49-year old Davis as a “precious little girl” is already pretty weird.
But there is one aspect of her refusal that has not been getting as much attention as it deserves. Her defense is that issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples goes against her religious beliefs. But the problem with the defense is that she refused to issue licenses to all couples, not just same-sex ones. While she can claim that her refusal to issue licenses to same-sex couples is because she is following her god’s law, what is the basis for her denying them to heterosexual couples, as she had been doing up right up until the point that the US Supreme Court ruled that bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional? Why isn’t she being asked this question?
Her refusal to issue the latter licenses seem to me to be a clear and unequivocal refusal to carry out the duties of her office and thus could form the grounds for action by the state’s attorney general and the basis of impeachment by the Kentucky legislature, assuming they were inclined to do so.
She may have thought initially that refusing to issue all licenses was a better option that refusing just a subset but it seems to me to be a strategic error in that it could be used to remove her from office without the complications of religious beliefs entering the picture.