After her latest legal setback, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has some decisions to make.
If she continues to defy the law and a court order, U.S. District Judge David Bunning has no choice but to find her in contempt and order her fined, imprisoned or both.
If her conscience really won't let her issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, she should resign the $80,000 a year post that has long supported her family.
Davis, a Democrat, was elected last November to succeed her mother after working for her mother in the clerk's office for 27 years. Davis now employs her son in the office.
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It's astounding that in almost three decades on the public payroll, Davis never sorted out the roles of government and religion under the U.S. Constitution that she swore to uphold. And it's worth noting that 117 of Kentucky's 120 county clerks are still issuing marriage licenses.
On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to delay Bunning's order that Davis resume issuing marriage licences by Monday. The panel said Davis has "little or no likelihood" of winning her appeal.
Liberty Counsel — a donation-funded self-described Christian ministry — represents Davis.
Nothing reveals the absurdity of her position more clearly than her lawyer's response to the latest ruling against her. Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver continues to insist that elected public officials have a constitutional right to pick and choose which of their government duties they will perform based on their religious beliefs — in other words, that public officials can use religion to discriminate against certain citizens.
Nothing could be more un-American. What he is advocating would destroy the rule of law, a foundation of our republic. And imagine the chaos, given the wide range of religious beliefs.
As Bunning explained, Davis is "free to believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman, as many Americans do. However, her religious convictions cannot excuse her from performing the duties that she took an oath to perform as Rowan County Clerk."
Liberty Counsel revved up its publicity-seeking crusade against marriage equality after the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26 ruled that this country cannot have two classes of citizens, one with fewer legal rights than the other, and struck down bans on same-sex marriage in Kentucky and other states.
Churches and clergy are still free to limit marriage according to their religions' beliefs, but public officials must follow the law and treat all citizens equally.
Why Liberty Counsel chose Kentucky to make its losing stand is not clear; we do have one of the few governor's races this year.
What is clear is that all the citizens of Rowan County are entitled to a full-service clerk's office that follows the Constitution. Davis should provide that or step aside.