A perfect storm of now-obsolete Kentucky law collided with a county clerk’s religious objection to same-sex marriage, landing her in jail.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was jailed last Thursday (not fined) for contempt of court for not following the new law since the Supreme Court redefined marriage for America in its historic 5-4 ruling June 26, 2015. She objects on religious grounds to issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Other states like North Carolina have accommodations for conscientious objectors, but Kentucky would need a change in its law. For now, Kim Davis’ name must appear on all marriage certificates issued in Rowan County.

Here’s a local news account of the latest from Moreland and Ashland, Kentucky. Some people supporting Kim Davis think Federal Judge David Bunning should be impeached for his heavy-handed treatment of her, while Kentucky’s Attorney General Jack Conway said, “I understand that passions are high on both sides of the issue, but we are a nation of laws, and no one can defy an order from a federal judge.”

However, Conway previously said he would not appeal a ruling to recognize same-sex marriages, which then conflicted with Kentucky’s law. In a statement addressing his decision, Conway said defending Kentucky’s ban by appealing the case would “be defending discrimination.”

This sounds like double-speak to me. America has become a nation of laws if we like them, and if we don’t, we ignore laws rather than changing them by the legislative process. Most of these ten elected officials did not respond to inquiries about why they chose to defy the laws in place at the time. It makes for interesting reading.

County Clerk Kim Davis is just following her state attorney general’s example of defying what she believes is an unjust law (in the opposite direction).

Supreme Court decisions are not infallible. Abraham Lincoln opposed the expansion of slavery, quoting the dissenting opinion in an 1857 speech after the 1856 Dred Scott decision. Current Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has drawn parallels between Kim Rowan’s incarceration and Dred Scott. Her lawyer plans to file a writ of habeus corpus for unlawful imprisonment.

Other flawed Supreme Court decisions include the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson “separate but equal” decision, which propagated racial segregation until the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision and the civil rights legislation of the 1960s.

The landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 is still causing conflict as pro-life women and men chip away at “a woman’s right to choose” to end the life of her unborn child. Few would argue for slavery or segregation today, and the tide is turning against abortion on demand, though the nation’s largest abortion provider Planned Parenthood still has its vigorous defenders. Among them are senior Democratic Congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and Presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, despite the latest scandal of selling fetal body parts, which has been under-reported by most major news outlets. Most Americans are not even aware of this and have not seen the undercover videos. Fewer than a dozen Democratic Party staffers showed up to watch the undercover videos when 2000 of them were invited to watch them.

The swing vote for this latest controversial Supreme Court decision, Anthony Kennedy, spoke against federal laws in 2003. Now he and four other justices have imposed their political views on the rest of the country without giving remedies for conscientious objectors as urged by constitutional law professor Douglas Laycock in their June 2015 opinion redefining marriage.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said in 2003, “I can accept neither the necessity nor the wisdom of federal mandatory minimum sentences. In all too many cases, mandatory minimum sentences are unjust.”

We’ll see how this latest battle turns out. Kim Davis is unlikely to be impeached or removed in an election by the voters of Rowan County over this issue. Meanwhile, she sits in jail and her name and title are on the marriage licenses issued over her objections in Rowan County.

A couple of solutions are possible: an executive order from the governor could solve the dilemma until the legislature reconvenes in January. This New York Times op-ed piece describes the legislative solution achieved in North Carolina.

Here is a quote from the opinion article, “So it was incumbent upon the government to try to work out a solution. Ms. Davis wasn’t trying to prevent same-sex couples from getting marriage licenses at all; she just didn’t want her name or title on the paperwork. That’s why she wouldn’t allow her deputies to issue the licenses.”

There is no religious test for holding public office in America. Kim Davis was duly elected by the people of Rowan County, Kentucky. She should be impeached or voted out of office, not jailed – a political prisoner of conscience. Some news accounts focus on the negative aspects of her past, sensationalizing the story with irrelevant details that would be thrown out in court. The reality is the gay couples who now have their marriage license with her name and title on it could have easily gone to any other county in Kentucky to get their marriage license.

In June, the Supreme Court redefined Kim Davis’ job description without providing a remedy for her religious beliefs, the foundational American freedom. She is following the instructions of Jesus Christ in Matthew 19 regarding marriage. America has a long history of giving conscientious objectors freedom to practice their religion in peace (Amish and Mennonites, for example, are not compelled to fight in wars.) Kim Davis has the First Amendment on her side. All four dissenters in the 5-4 ruling redefining marriage warned of religious liberty implications. The link above quotes some of their fundamental objections to this new constitutional right to same-sex marriage, fabricated from whole cloth (in their opinion).

America’s lawless culture seems a little like ancient Israel during the time of the judges, when people hired priests who did what they wanted them to do. The same thing is happening in America’s government, as elected officials and unelected judges follow their own opinions, legislating from the bench and shredding the Constitution rather than following the rule of law.

“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”  Judges 17:6, ESV

It looks like the Long Cultural Civil War I predicted is just beginning. One side thinks same-sex marriage and its spin-offs are “settled public policy,” and the other side is now fighting an uphill battle for religious freedom exceptions after a flawed 5-4 Supreme Court ruling.

Conservative columnist Dale Murrish writes on history, travel, technology, religion and politics for the Troy Patch and USA Melting Pot club. You can help this non-profit club by making your Amazon purchases through the link on the left side of their website. You can also see over a dozen ethnic presentations from people with firsthand knowledge under Culture & Country (right hand side), and outdoor presentations (Hobby & Fun), including posts on bicycling, skiing and camping.

Photo is of the June 13, 2015 cover of WORLD magazine, before the historic Supreme Court ruling mandating gay marriage in America. Time will tell how the ramifications play out for small businesses, colleges and non-profit organizations, churches (some have already argued that their tax-exempt status be revoked). And of course, the First Amendment shrinks almost daily.


P.S. Kim Davis was released today, September 8, with more threats. It looks like the legislating from the bench has continued, with Judge Bunning putting in his own fix for the Kentucky law. The marriage licenses issued by the deputy clerks while Davis was incarcerated were modified per Bunning’s instructions and had Rowan County on them, not Kim Davis’ name and title. It’s questionable whether this is according to Kentucky law. No doubt the lawyers and courts will argue about this unless and until the Kentucky legislature does its job when it reconvenes in January.

P.P.S. According to CBS News September 9, the Rowan County marriage licenses do have Kim Davis’ name stamped on them by the deputy clerks who issued them. Her attorney has not said whether she will issue licenses in the future. More to come.