Kim Davis jailed on contempt charges until she agrees to issue same-sex marriage licenses

Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis has defied a U.S. Federal Court which ordered her to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Kim Davis is a conscientious objector, now in jail for contempt. Her crime? Refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. If she had refused to comply with a law that required her to sit in the back of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, she might have been hailed as “the first lady of civil rights.”

Does the Bitemaster agree with Davis? No. But the outrage her actions have provoked has more to do with her position on gay rights than whether she has the obligation to resist unjust laws.

Source: Kim Davis will be jailed on contempt charges until she agrees to issue same-sex marriage licenses

See also: Civil disobedience

7 thoughts on “Kim Davis jailed on contempt charges until she agrees to issue same-sex marriage licenses

  1. Okay, I have a few issues with this:

    1) It’s not appropriate to call this woman a “conscientious objector”. In the context of the military, a conscientious objector is someone who seeks, and is granted, exemption from military service because his or her religious beliefs do not allow him or her to be an instrument of war. Conscientious objectors seek not to be part of the military at all; they do not insist on becoming commissioned offices and then refuse to do the duties required of those officers, such as leading troops into battle. That is more akin to what this woman is doing.

    2) Public officials don’t have a right to refuse to enforce laws, whether created by the voters or decided by the Supreme Court, that they happen to disagree with. This is as true for liberal public officials (such as the mayor of New Paltz, NY, who briefly issued same-sex marriage licenses at a time when same-sex marriage was illegal in New York State) as for conservative ones. To allow public officials this latitude is to invite chaos.

    3) This woman’s religious or moral beliefs are irrelevant. If an Orthodox Jew were appointed to this government post, and refused to grant an interfaith couple a marriage license on the grounds that Judaism proscribes interfaith marriage, no one would have much sympathy. This woman could reconcile her life with her faith by finding alternate employment. Unlike the gray area of wedding vendors, a government employee with the power to issue marriage licenses is clearly a public accommodation.

  2. My liberal friends have unanimously said that Davis should just do her damn job or quit. I would point out that there are sometimes religious exemptions for government employees — for example, bus drivers who want to wear a turban.
    Does Davis qualify for such an exemption? I dunno. I know that it depends on a mass of federal and state statutes, plus decades of case law.
    Eugene Volokh has an extensive series of blog posts on the subject (see, for example, this one:, which have been collected in this Word document:
    Have fun.

    • Let’s add one more potato to the stew: I support “sanctuary cities” which refuse to enforce immigration laws. And it seems that at least some government officials refused to enforce the Fugitive Slave Acts.

      • We conferred with our resident History Maven, Avi Mowshowitz on this. Here’s his reply:

        It’s true that some Northern officials refused to enforce the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, but I can’t think, off the top of my head, of any who did direct civil disobedience in the “I’m not helping enforce it, go arrest me” sense.

        In the cases that I know about, the Northern officials used either sabotage or passive-aggressiveness. For instance, they’d pass state laws that made the Fugitive Slave Law totally unenforceable. When their counter-law inevitably got sent to the Supreme Court for being unconstitutional, they’d stall the case as long as possible. Or a group of slave-catchers got swarmed and beaten by a mob of private citizens, who whisked the slave away…and the local Northern officials, no matter how they tried, just couldn’t seem to find the slave or any people who were part of the mob.

        Of course, it could be that there were cases of Northern officials doing direct civil disobedience and I just don’t know them. The bigger question is how often the private citizens defying it were being helped under the table.

        • My understanding is that in response to the Fugitive Slave Act, many northern states passed laws specifically forbidding state officials from being involved in the capture of runaway slaves.

    • Exemptions such as the one you mention (the bus driver who wants to wear a turban or other religious garb) are generally made on a case-by-case basis but would not be granted if they interfered with the basic duties of the job. A police officer, for instance, would probably not be granted an exemption from wearing a police hat as the hat identifies him or her as a police officer, whereas it’s hard to see any harm that would come to anyone from the bus driver being allowed to wear a turban instead of the standard hat. Moreover, a bus driver asking to wear a turban is not refusing to do the basic duty for which he was hired and for which he is paid. I don’t think many people would sympathize with a bus driver who claimed that his religion prevented him from driving a bus. And that’s what Kim Davis is claiming.

      • I believe that liberals have been dumping on Davis because they don’t like her stand on gay marriage, not because of the weakness of her legal position.
        I agree that you are more principled than that because of your disagreement with former mayor Jason West.
        Nevertheless, the Bitemaster’s sworn duty is to mock hypocrites, idiots, and assholes, and he will uphold that duty come hell or high water. Or at least until he gets a life.

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