Remember the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage license to same-sex couples? Well, she's back in the news, but this should be the end of her time in the national spotlight. On Thursday, a federal judge dismissed lawsuits against Kim Davis. The Rowan County Clerk had refused to issue marriage licenses back in 2015, when the lawsuits were filed. Two same-sex couples and two straight couples sued after Davis denied them their licenses. Since then, Kentucky law has changed, removing the clerk's signature from marriage licenses. That essentially made the whole matter before the court irrelevant.
U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning, the same judge who sent Davis to jail in 2015, dismissed the lawsuits Thursday. Initially, when the couples sued last year, Bunning granted a preliminary injunction and ordered Davis to issue the licenses. When she refused to comply with the order, he placed her in contempt of court and she spent five days in jail. She was released because her deputies started issuing the licenses on her behalf. She later appealed the ruling, but in the meantime, the way marriage licenses work in Kentucky had changed. Bunning explained his decision to dismiss in pretty succinct terms: "In light of these proceedings, and in view of the fact that the marriage licenses continue to be issued without incident, there no longer remains a case or controversy before the Court."
This is what Davis wanted. Back in June, the Associated Press reported that Davis asked the court to dismiss the cases against her, given the passage of Kentucky Senate Bill 216, which removed the clerk's signature from the license. She said in a news release at the time, "I am pleased that I can continue to serve my community as the Rowan County clerk without having to sacrifice my religious convictions and conscience."
The same self-congratulatory tone was struck by Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, the group that provided her legal counsel, The Courier-Journal of Louisville reported. "Kim Davis has won! We celebrate this victory for her and for every American,” Staver said in a press release. He explained why his group supported Davis so emphatically:
County clerks are now able to perform their public service without being forced to compromise their religious liberty. The case is now closed and the door has been shut on the ACLU’s attempt to assess damages against Kim Davis. This victory is not just for Kim Davis. It is a victory for everyone who wants to remain true to their deeply-held religious beliefs regarding marriage while faithfully serving the public.
The Courier-Journal also reported the ACLU's take on the matter. The ACLU of Kentucky represented some of the same-sex couples. Amber Duke, the group's communications director, told the paper that there was no "immediate comment." "As we've said in the past, the true victory is that all loving Kentucky couples can obtain marriage licenses without fear of discrimination," Duke told The Courier-Journal.
I would have to agree with the ACLU's take on the matter. The important thing is that same-sex couples are able to wed without any added hardships. It's a shame, though, that the entire state of Kentucky changed its laws because one anti-gay woman. The best news is that we shouldn't have to hear from Davis any longer.