4 things to know about the Kentucky clerk who won’t issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples


MOREHEAD, Ky. — Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, finds herself in the middle of a firestorm of controversy. Some conservatives are hailing Davis as a hero for steadfastly maintaining her religious convictions, while others point to her own checkered past and call her a hypocrite for imposing her moral will instead of performing her duties as an elected official. Here’s what we know about Davis.

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How she became county clerk

It was a family affair, as her mother served as county clerk for almost 40 years, and Davis served as her deputy clerk for 26 of those 40 years, according to the Washington Post.

Davis ran as a Democrat and won the Rowan County clerk election in 2014. At the time, she said, “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.”

After the Supreme Court ruling affirming the legality of same-sex marriages, Davis has found herself in the spotlight for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She says she is refusing to issue the same-sex marriage licenses because of her religious beliefs.

Davis had three divorces before becoming an Apostolic Christian

Why does her personal life matter to some? Because Davis is adamantly enforcing her personal moral convictions when it comes to executing a duty of her position as county clerk, some of her critics point to her own tumultuous personal life as reason why Davis is not in the position to judge anyone.

Davis has been married four times, to three different men, and has had two children out of wedlock, according to WCPO.

In her defense, Davis claims that her three divorces came before she became an Apostolic Christian. The Apostolic Church follows a strict moral code, based upon literal interpretations of the bible. According to the Washington Post, worshippers are forbidden from drinking or smoking, must dress modestly and female members may be restricted in cutting their hair.

What Davis has said publicly about the controversy

Davis released a statement, via her attorney, explaining why she was defying the Supreme Court order. The full statement was posted on Liberty Counsel, which is a Christian-based legal aid organization, according to the Washington Post.

In her statement, Rowan admits, “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.” She then delves into the specifics of her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, referring to it as a “Heaven or Hell decision.”

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.

What will happen next?

There will be a contempt of court hearing Thursday. U.S. District Judge David Bunning has ordered Davis and her six deputies to appear before him. As an elected official, Davis cannot be fired, but the judge could order strict fines or jail time if Davis is found guilty of misconduct. So far, she has refused to step down.

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