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Anti-Gay County Clerk to Return to Federal Courtroom, Issues Statement

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis still won't issue marriage licenses because of her objection to same-sex marriage and now she must appear in federal court.

A raucous scene unfolded in Morehead on Tuesday morning, hours after the United States Supreme Court rejected Davis's request for a stay. By refusing to issue licenses now, Davis finds herself in contempt of court.

The Democrat's case has become a national spectacle. The New York Times reported Tuesday:

As one couple, David Ermold and David Moore, tried to engage her in an argument, Ms. Davis said several times that her office would not issue any marriage licenses. “Under whose authority?” Mr. Ermold asked.

“Under God’s authority,” she replied.

Ms. Davis at first remained in her office with the blinds drawn, while a deputy clerk told Mr. Ermold and Mr. Moore and the other couple, April Miller and Karen Roberts, that no licenses would be issued Tuesday. But the two men began shouting for her to come out and confront them face to face.

“Tell her to come out and face the people she’s discriminating against,” Mr. Ermold said.

Ms. Davis emerged briefly, and asked them to leave.

Through her legal team at the conservative Liberty Counsel, Davis issued this statement:

I have worked in the Rowan County Clerk’s office for 27 years as a Deputy Clerk and was honored to be elected as the Clerk in November 2014, and took office in January 2015. I love my job and the people of Rowan County. I have never lived any place other than Rowan County. Some people have said I should resign, but I have done my job well. This year we are on track to generate a surplus for the county of 1.5 million dollars.

In addition to my desire to serve the people of Rowan County, I owe my life to Jesus Christ who loves me and gave His life for me. Following the death of my godly mother-in-law over four years ago, I went to church to fulfill her dying wish. There I heard a message of grace and forgiveness and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. I am not perfect. No one is. But I am forgiven and I love my Lord and must be obedient to Him and to the Word of God.

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. To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of 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. For me it is a decision of obedience. I have no animosity toward anyone and harbor no ill will. To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God’s Word. It is a matter of religious liberty, which is protected under the First Amendment, the Kentucky Constitution, and in the Kentucky Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Our history is filled with accommodations for people’s religious freedom and conscience. I want to continue to perform my duties, but I also am requesting what our Founders envisioned – that conscience and religious freedom would be protected. That is all I am asking. I never sought to be in this position, and I would much rather not have been placed in this position. I have received death threats from people who do not know me. I harbor nothing against them. I was elected by the people to serve as the County Clerk. I intend to continue to serve the people of Rowan County, but I cannot violate my conscience. 

Cries continue to mount for Davis's removal. An op-ed in the Detroit Free Press says it's time to remove Davis:

Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who has been refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on the grounds that doing so would violate her religious beliefs, claims that the state should not force her to act against her conscience. I agree. As a gay-rights advocate — and a gay man myself — I support her right to live in accordance with her religious convictions, even if that means not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

What I don't support is allowing her to continue collecting paychecks for an $80,000 a year state job which she declines to perform. If her conscience renders her unable to issue marriage licenses to those legally qualified, then the right thing for her to do is resign. After all, issuing marriage licenses is not a peripheral, non-essential part of being county clerk — it's a central job function. Her current stance makes no more sense than that of an Amish person who expects to retain a job as a bus driver.

Attorneys for a gay couple in Rowan County filed a contempt motion which will be heard by Judge David Bunning in the United States Courthouse in Ashland on Thursday.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story included a headline and notation that Davis would appear in a federal courtroom in Covington. The hearing is actually scheduled to take place in Ashland. RCN regrets and apologizes for the error.

-Staff report

Photo: Kim Davis