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Defiant county clerk asks Kentucky governor to free her in same-sex marriage case

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(CNN) — Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who’s refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses, on Monday asked the Kentucky governor to immediately free her from jail, according to court documents obtained by CNN.

“We would like them to release her from jail and provide reasonable, sensible accommodation so she can do her job,” one of her lawyers, Horatio Mihet, said in a statement. “That would be taking her name off of marriage licenses in Rowan County and allowing her deputies to issue the licenses.”

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear’s office said Monday he won’t respond, noting that the conflict was a “matter between her and the courts.”

On Sunday, her lawyers appealed the contempt of court motion that sent her to jail five days ago. Her lawyers said they’d file arguments to back up their appeal later Monday or Tuesday.

Davis had refused to give licenses to same-sex couples after June’s Supreme Court decision on grounds that issuing the licenses would violate her Christian convictions against same-sex marriage.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered her to jail Thursday, ruling she was in contempt of court for refusing to issue the licenses and not allowing her deputies to distribute them for her. He said Davis would remain behind bars until she complies.

Five of her deputies agreed Thursday to issue marriage licenses in her absence, and the Rowan County Clerk’s Office began doing so the following day.

How long will Davis stay in jail?

Mihet said Monday on CNN that Davis was “willing to stay in this jail as long as it takes in order for her to win back her constitutional rights not just for her but for Americans of all faiths.”

On Tuesday afternoon, a rally in support of Davis is scheduled to be held outside the jail where she’s being held. Mike Huckabee, a Republican candidate for president, said he plans to visit Davis in jail before the rally.

One of Davis’s lawyers, Mat Staver, founder and chariman of Liberty Counsel, said Beshear could issue an executive order to solve the problem.

The legislature could pass a law removing clerks’ names from the licenses, but it won’t be in session until January.

But Beshear said last week he won’t call lawmakers for a special session to deal with the issue, adding that to do so would cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money.”

The governor added that he has no power to remove Davis from office.

In court papers, attorneys for Davis argued that she is unable to comply with the court orders because issuing same-sex marriage licenses “irreparably and irreversibly violates her conscience.”

A federal prosecutor said it was time for Davis and her county to comply with the judge’s ruling.

“Government officials are free to disagree with the law, but not disobey it,” U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey said in a statement. “The county clerk has presented her position through the federal court system, all of the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. It is time for the clerk and the county to follow the law.”

Supporters say Davis should not have to resign

Davis’ lawyers said they were surprised when the judge ordered Davis jailed. They expected some other legal action, such as a fine.

Daniel Canon, an attorney who was working with the ACLU on the case against Davis, said his clients had not asked for Davis to be jailed. But now that she is, he said, there should be “some assurance that Ms. Davis is not going to continue to impose her religious beliefs.”

Ryan Anderson, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based conservative think tank, said the legislature should remove clerks’ names from the licenses as Davis has asked.

“Hopefully she’ll get out of jail because the state of Kentucky will realize that there are compromises we can reach that will protect both the rights of gays and lesbians to receive marriage licenses and the rights of someone like Kim Davis not to have her name on that marriage license,” he said.

Staver said Davis does not plan to resign. Anderson acknowledged that Davis could resign, but he said she shouldn’t have to.

“We have a rich history in the United States of accommodating conscientious objectors,” Anderson said. “Kentucky accommodates conscientious objectors for other types of licensings. … The question should be: If we can accommodate someone, why shouldn’t we?”

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  • Kevin Rahe

    I don’t know how a court or a law can tell someone that there is no difference between men and women and that they must act accordingly.

      • Kevin Rahe

        Obergefell v. Hodges essentially teaches that there is no difference between a man and a woman, and Mrs. Davis has been jailed because she refuses to act according to that teaching.

          • Kevin Rahe

            Those state laws violated the equal protection clause because they were based on the idea that there is a difference between men and women, an idea that Obergefell inherently says is faulty.

          • Kevin Rahe

            Let me put it another way. If the SCOTUS had accepted as valid the idea that men and women are different, then it couldn’t have said that treating the union of a man and a woman as something different than the union of two people of the same sex is unfair.

          • Kevin Rahe

            Every individual had as much right to marry as any other similarly-situated individual before Obergefell. Obviously the decision was about something other than individual rights.

            >The government does not define marriage.

            That is correct – it has merely accepted the definition passed down to it from practically every time and place throughout history. That is until June of this year when the SCOTUS said it could no longer accept any definition of marriage.

          • Ishpeming

            So the definition is fluid then. Glad we agree. It seems to me that in the past a married couple would let the govt know they were married- not the other way around. Seems to me that SCOTUS determined that it was STILL up to the people to define it so in that sense you are correct that they undefined it as far as govt is concerned. Power to the People and the Common Man!

          • Kevin Rahe

            Everyone has always been free to call anything they want marriage for their own private purposes. But that isn’t the question that was settled by Obergefell. When you expect the government (i.e. all of us) to recognize and treat something in a special way, you need to have a good reason for it, and it needs to be something that can be measured objectively. It can’t just be an individual claim. For instance, I can’t walk up to the Department of Human Services and say, “I’m poor and I need food, please give me some food stamps.” First, we need to agree that it serves the common good to give some people food. Then we need to develop some objective measures that determine who should be entitled to receive help buying food, so we give the help to those who need it most and avoid giving it to those less likely to need it. The same logic used to apply to the benefits married couples received from the government, but unfortunately no more.

          • Ishpeming

            You would have to show me a little proof as to the reasons lawmakers enacted all the laws. Are there legislative proceedings? until then we have to go with the law saying “married” and then a married couple saying “ah…yes that’s us” and the law automatically applies.

          • Ishpeming

            Your whole argument is that these laws are poorly worded. You might be able to better defend yourself there. Try it.

          • Kevin Rahe

            As most such laws were enacted around a century ago give or take 25 years, the deliberations that went into them aren’t readily available. The best we can do is infer the reasons they exist from the conditions they established to determine who would receive them. Those who support same-sex “marriage” haven’t claimed that they know the reasons those laws exist and that same-sex couples fulfill their purpose the same as traditionally-married couples. Until they make such a claim and present a line of reasoning to back it up, they can’t say that same-sex unions aren’t CONTRARY to the reasons those laws were enacted. They need to heed G.K. Chesterton’s lesson on reform:

            “In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

          • Ishpeming

            It is not I who is looking to destroy the wall. The fact remains that the law states “marriage” and so all married folks should enjoy equal protection under laws concerning marriage. YOU should spend less time dwelling on homosexuality and more time writing your congressman to change the laws to come into being once a child is born or something along those lines- which seems to be more in line with what YOUR opinion is regarding the reason all the laws governing marriage were enacted. The onus of responsibility is on you.

          • Kevin Rahe

            There are good reasons to entice a man and woman to make a public commitment to each other even (in fact especially) BEFORE they have a baby together. But those reasons don’t apply to same-sex couples.

          • Kevin Rahe

            And “the wall” was the law that divided those who would receive government marriage benefits from those who wouldn’t. It is indeed YOU who wanted to remove that wall.

          • Frank Leffingwell

            Then I guess you better get to rewording the laws so only those couples who can bear children can reap the benefits if that’s how you feel the laws purpose is. Otherwise we’ll continue them for all married couples

  • Susan

    Why is she being discriminated against for her religious beliefs? She has a right to religious freedom! That’s not ok! She has her rights just like everyone else but she’s being thrown in jail for it. What has happened to everything this country was founded on! But especially what has happened to our nation that was founded with God?

  • Onemustwonder

    I read an interesting piece in Washington Post on how we can get out of this situation- she can sue under state RFRA guidelines to have her name removed from forms to simply read Rowan County Clerk. Seems like a simple enough solution

  • Ishpeming

    By not permitting her deputy clerks from signing marriage cents wasn’t she denying them their religious liberty? It’s against my gods law to deny rights to people- I would have sued her.

    • Kevin Rahe

      There is no “right” to have someone of the same sex as your spouse, except by the arbitrary and unreasonable manufacture of the SCOTUS.

        • Kevin Rahe

          Prior to Obergefell, every man in this country already had the same rights as every other man, and every woman the same rights as every other woman. No individuals were being treated unjustly.

          • Ishpeming

            All people deserve the same rights. And a married couple down the street from me did not enjoy the same rights as my wife and I enjoy. We’re all married- yet they didn’t receive equal protection under the law

          • Kevin Rahe

            All people (i.e. individuals) already had the same rights. When you go beyond individuals into the realm of acts or relationships people freely choose to engage in, however, the government (i.e. all of us) is free to judge whether a particular kind of act or relationship deserves particular treatment, or should even be discouraged or encouraged. For instance, if I give $700 to the local food bank, it treats that act different than if I spend $700 on a new TV. States have tended to judge relationships between men and women as warranting more attention than other kinds of relationships, and for very good reasons. The SCOTUS has discarded reason, though, in determining that treating them as something special is no longer valid.

          • Ishpeming

            violating a group of people’s rights is the same as violating those individual rights. I can’t say it’s ok to not recognize catholic marriages because they teach their children to worship a small cracker and cup of grape juice- and then state “well I’m not discriminating against individuals- just a group of people”

            The govt has enacted laws to cover married people- it needs to cover ALL married people. If you disagree then you should seek to have the laws rewritten.

          • Kevin Rahe

            No one is forced to acknowledge or recognize anything about a Catholic marriage that is particularly Catholic. In other words, a county clerk is not forced to acknowledge that it’s a sacrament or actually called “Holy Matrimony” in the eyes of the Church. They aren’t expected to treat it any differently than the union of two atheists.

            All married people were treated the same as all other married people before Obergefell.

          • Ishpeming

            Untrue there were many married couples (married in a Christian church even if that’s important to you) who were denied equal treatment under the law compared to other married couples simply because they were gay. That is wrong.

          • Kevin Rahe

            The attractions one experiences were never a factor in whether someone received a marriage license to my knowledge. A man who wanted to marry a woman had no problem getting a marriage license, even if he experienced same-sex attractions. (That was the case with an acquaintance of mine, so I know it’s true.) Likewise, same-sex couples were denied marriage licenses, even if neither of them actually experienced same-sex attractions, like these guys:

          • Ishpeming

            So there is no reason at all that the fourteenth amendment was violated. All the more reason to celebrate the Obergefell decision. Now all married couples can enjoy equal treatment under the law

          • Kevin Rahe

            They weren’t denied last year in New Zealand, but they would have been in Michigan prior to Obergefell, proving that whether one received a marriage license did not in any way turn on the attractions experienced by one or both partners.

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