Cheyenne Dorsagno, Copy Editor
Ever since the video of a Rowan County, Kentucky clerk refusing marriage licenses to same-sex couples went viral, a heated media debate has ensued. The county clerk, Kim Davis, was held in contempt for defying a court order and rejecting to perform her duty as an elected official. U.S. District Judge David Bunning released Davis from jail five days after sending her there with a strict caveat that forbids her from continuing to not comply with the law. Davis has not been clear about what she will do once she returns to work and is put in this position again. She may be charged with official misconduct, which is a misdemeanor. If convicted, a court may order her to be permanently removed from her position.
Davis and her team of lawyers have requested to have her name taken off the certificates being issued. The court is now considering putting it under the authority of the state to conform to her religious beliefs.
Davis is an Apostolic Christian, meaning she believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible.
The church’s “Statement of Faith” on its website reads, “Marriage is a lifelong union ordained of God in which a man and a woman of like mind, faith, and fellowship are united in the Lord in Holy Matrimony.”
While she has become an avid supporter of the union of “a man and a woman,” she has not upheld the condition “lifelong union.” Davis is currently on her fourth marriage, and many have argued that someone could have denied her a divorce certificate because it defies God’s teachings. Homosexuality, though arguably the most taboo sin in the Bible, is only discussed six times. Divorce is mentioned much more frequently (over 40 times) as well as other sins, which have also become more socially accepted.
Davis explained her position by saying, “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 … It is a Heaven or Hell decision.” After confrontations about her own marital status, she explained that Jesus has forgiven her. In light of this, Davis still finds it suitable to seemingly grant herself the responsibility of carrying out God’s judgement.
Those defending Davis have pointed to Kentucky’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed in 2013. The law prohibits the state government from restricting a person’s freedom of religion unless it finds a compelling enough reason to do so and confronts the situation in the least burdening manner possible. A number of people feel that Davis’ legal complications are representative of the attack that religion is suffering in America. Truthfully, people have widely adopted a stereotype of hateful Christians; likely because religion has been misused by many as a powerful source of judgement. Christians and LGBTQ activists are largely viewed as opposing groups, but thankfully, people can remind themselves that this is not always the case. Even still, today’s free America allows people to make their own decisions, which should not be a burden to any others’ way of life.
From a strictly legal standpoint, Davis has the right to believe whatever she wishes. She is even welcome to protest outside the Rowan courthouse like groups of about 20 others have done, exclaiming “no tosodomite perversion.” Her faith, however, is not the issue.
After Davis was elected into office in 2015, she told the Morehead News, “… I promise to each and every one that I will be the very best working clerk that I can be and will be a good steward of their tax dollars and follow the statutes of this office to the letter.”
Davis has both refused to fulfill this promise and to resign from a job that has clearly outgrown her.
Her beliefs may result in the loss of an $80,000 salary career, which may be problematic and interfere with her life. However, Davis has inhibited more people during this process by delaying their marriages and most would agree that marriage is more rewarding and defining than an occupation.
When April Miller and Karen Roberts tried to obtain a marriage license for the third time, a deputy clerk told them that none were being issued that day. The couple stated, “Every time we go in there and we’re denied a license, it’s rejection, it’s marginalization … we feel ostracized. We feel defeated. But we know that this is a liberty that we have been granted, and we’re going to keep fighting for that civil right.”
Reportedly three other Kentucky clerks have also refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses and at least nine counties in Alabama have completely stopped issuing them to resist the August 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. Many see Davis as a Christian heroine and have sent her letters of endearing support, while others have responded with death threats.