Kim Davis Challenges Gov. Beshear's Same-Sex Marriage Order In An Emergency Injunction
The Kim Davis affair continued on Monday with a fresh announcement from her attorneys, and it's sounding like the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals may be the next place to rule on her legal fate. Lawyers for Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed last week for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, filed an appeal on her contempt of court ruling on Sunday. And as NBC News details, that appeal is paired with another strategy aimed at freeing her from the days-long incarceration: Kim Davis is challenging Gov. Steve Beshear's order that clerks comply with marriage equality.
The motion, which can be viewed here, largely seeks to pin the blame for Davis' jailing on Beshear, the state's Democratic governor. It argues that he hasn't been willing to take "elementary steps to accommodate Davis' undisputed, sincerely-held religious beliefs about marriage." Davis has been in a Kentucky jail since Thursday.
It requests that Davis be freed while her attorneys (as well as, in all likelihood, some of her high-profile supporters on the religious right) work to achieve reforms that would let people like her off the hook — exemptions from marriage license duties for religiously opposed clerks, basically, exemptions not present in Beshear's order.
While it might be hard to feel too much sympathy for Davis, who has ruled out resigning from her post as Rowan County clerk, you can't fault her lawyers for doing everything they can to get her out of jail. It's entirely unclear whether it'll do any good, however — to this point, every court to address Davis on this issue has basically given the same answer: issue the licenses.
The responsibility first fell to her after the Supreme Court effectively legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in June, the result of its ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, at which point Beshear ordered all county clerks to comply.
Davis never did, however. She began refusing to issue any marriage licenses, for same-sex and opposite-sex couples alike. That's why two of the couples that brought suit against her were straight — the impact of her religious belief prevented anyone from getting a license from her. She subsequently ignored rulings from a U.S. District Judge, as well when the Supreme Court's denied her request for a stay.
If there's one big issue about how a faith-based exemption of this kind would actually work, it's probably the problem of what level of exemption would be required to a woman of Davis' overbearing faith. In the past, she's made particular issue of the fact that her name appears on the marriage licenses she issues, and has described her refusal to fulfill her oath of office as a "Heaven or Hell decision."
Her attorneys have also contested the validity of same-sex marriage licenses issued in Rowan County while Davis has been in jail, arguing that they're "not worth the paper they're printed on." In other words, she pretty clearly holds herself to a very high standard of acceptable non-involvement, and it's hard to imagine there'd be many easy compromises to find.