Kim Davis saga continues: Will she be censured for defying court order – again?

The Kentucky clerk’s brief imprisonment for refusing to issue gay marriage licenses made her a lightning rod in the debate over religious freedom, personal liberties, and the law. ACLU lawyers now accuse her of issuing questionably legal licenses.

Timothy D. Easley/AP/File
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, with Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee at her side, greets the crowd after being released from the Carter County Detention Center, in Grayson, Ky., Sept. 8. The ACLU has accused Ms. Davis of issuing 'questionably legal' marriage licenses in violation of a court order not to interfere with employees issueing the certificates to same-sex couples.

Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who spent five days in jail this month for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, may be facing more time, as four couples’ lawyers now accuse her of modifying marriage licenses to undermine their legality.

According to the lawyers representing two gay couples and two straight couples, the Rowan County clerk’s office has changed the language appearing on marriage licenses since Ms. Davis’ return, when she was ordered not to interfere with other employees’ issuing of licenses. US District Court Judge Bunning determined that licenses did not have to include Davis’ name, a workaround to her religiously-motivated refusal to marry gay couples after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in June.

In Davis’ absence, her staff had begun issuing licenses without her name. After resuming work last week, however, she confiscated the licenses to make an additional change: new ones no longer say they have been issued by the county clerks office, but instead read “pursuant to federal court order."

This Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal judge to order Davis to reissue the licenses, claiming in their court filing that the change leaves their clients’ marriages “questionable at best,” leaving Rowan County same-sex couples “second-class citizens unworthy of official recognition and authorization.” The ACLU's lawyers have requested that Judge Bunning place Davis’ office in receivership if she continues to alter the licenses.

If placed under receivership, the judge would appoint someone else to issue licenses, amounting to what University of Louisville law professor Sam Marcosson calls “a limited takeover,” one stop short of re-imprisoning Davis.

Davis’ attorney, Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel, is expected to formally respond to the claims on Tuesday. In the meantime, he emphasized that Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear had promised to recognize the new Rowan County licenses, and denounced the fresh claims against Davis as being personally motivated. “They want her scalp to hang on the wall as a trophy,” he told the Associated Press. He called Davis’ compromises “a good-faith effort to comply with the court’s order” while following her conscience.

Davis’ first stint in prison ended in a spirited press conference-cum-rally led by Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, capitalizing on Davis’ now-iconic status among some social conservatives as a defiant martyr for religious liberty. As Huckabee escorted Davis to the stage, to the sound of "The Eye of the Tiger," he pledged, “If somebody needs to go to jail, I am willing to go in her place, and I mean that.... we cannot criminalize the Christian faith or any faith in this country.”

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.