Thursday, the same-sex marriage circus will continue as Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis and her deputies appear before U.S. District Judge David Bunning, accompanied by an entourage of lawyers, reporters and photographers, supporters and opponents of both sides, cellphone videos running as they wave signs and shout encouragement and derision.
We will not question Davis' sincerity, although we disagree with her interpretation of just what authority she was elected to enforce.
But there can't be any question that political operatives have been eager to bend this issue to their objectives, godly or not.
Some of Davis' supporters held signs Tuesday declaring that if Gov. Steve Beshear doesn't intervene on Davis' behalf, they will withhold votes from his son, Andy, who is running for attorney general. The younger Beshear's opponent, Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, appeared at a Frankfort rally supporting Davis.
So did Republican gubernatorial nominee Matt Bevin, who railed against his opponent, current Attorney General Jack Conway, for saving taxpayers both money and humiliation by declining to appeal a U.S. District Court ruling against Kentucky's anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment.
That amendment itself, passed in 2004, was clearly a wedge issue used to mobilize conservative voters for Republican candidates that year.
This swirl of political gamesmanship and high-stakes drama has all but pushed the people who want to marry off the stage.
That's a shame because none of this is about who wins in November. It's about couples who sincerely, absolutely want to make a commitment under law to their lives together.
That's who U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II focused on in his ruling last year, striking down Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage. "In many respects, plaintiffs here are average, stable American families," he wrote. But, since they couldn't legally be married in Kentucky, they were denied many of the benefits that other stable families, headed by opposite-sex couples, enjoy. These include rights granted through laws governing taxes, inheritance, health care, medical leave, workers compensation, Social Security and adoption. They and their children were relegated to a "second-tier" family status, he wrote.
Heyburn, who died earlier this year, acknowledged that Kentucky's laws were based in tradition and sincerely held views against same-sex marriage. But, he wrote, that "cannot alone justify their infringement on individual liberties."
David Moore, one of the men seeking a marriage license in Rowan County, said it another way as he expressed fatigue, frustration and disappointment with the circus surrounding his efforts to get a marriage license: "I don't think anybody should have to go through this. ... I shouldn't have to remember this as the story of how I got married."