Kim Davis isn’t a martyr for religious freedom, she’s a lawbreaker

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The Onion may be a satirical news source, but it has never printed truer words than when it printed an infographic titled, “Who Is Kim Davis?”

In the story, The Onion made a few succinct points about the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for five days after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples: “Work Style: Unconstitutional; Primary Goal: Protect sanctity of traditional homophobia; Commitment to Loving Her Neighbor: Court-ordered.” It would be funny if it weren’t all so sadly true.

When Davis was released from jail on Tuesday she was met by a crowd of supporters, including two Republican presidential contenders, formers Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Senator Ted Cruz. Social media also rallied behind Davis, with the hashtag, #ImWithKim taking to the Twittersphere. 

But though Republican pundits and conservative news outlets might be choosing to ignore it, we live in a country where there is a separation of church and state. Unfortunately for Davis, no matter what her religious beliefs are, in her job as an elected government employee, she must follow the law of the land as it is stated, or she must leave her government job.

Monday, the first same-sex couple who walked in the door of the Rowan county clerk’s office to a apply for a marriage license walked out with one—as well they should have. Unfortunately, they still walked out without Davis’s signature, and though the Rowan County attorney has ruled that these licenses will be valid even without the county clerk’s signature, it’s clear that Davis’s stint in behind bars hasn’t made her any more willing to do her job.

If Davis can’t do what her job as a government employee entails, authorizing marriage licenses for couples who meet requirements, then it’s really quite simple: she needs to go.

But according to Davis’s lawyer, she has no interest in resigning, and is instead seeking a court to uphold a religious exemption that will fit her circumstances.

And according to Governor Steve Beshear, no measures can be taken to force her out: "The future of the Rowan County Clerk is now in the hands of the courts. The legislature has placed the authority to issue marriage licenses squarely on county clerks by statute, and I have no legal authority to relieve her of her statutory duty by executive order or to remove her from office,” said Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear in an interview with Newsweek. 

In order to “fire” Davis, as an elected official, she would have to be impeached by the special session in the state legislature.

So it would seem that there’s no way to loosen Davis’s hold on the county clerk position. And yet, as an elected official, she must have the support of her electorate. So let’s take that away. Of course, most of us, especially on this campus a state away, aren’t Rowan County residents, but this should be a problem for everyone. So make your voice heard; give Davis’s district’s legislators a call. Representative Rocky Adkins can be reached at 606-928-0407 and Stephen West can be reached at 502-564-8100 Ext. 806. Let Kentucky know that this is an issue that citizens across the nation cannot and will not ignore.

In a Facebook post, celebrity and activist George Takei wrote that: “In our society, we obey civil laws, not religious ones. To suggest otherwise is, simply put, entirely un-American.”

Takei could not have been more correct. In placing her religious beliefs above her job requirements, her country and the rights of law-abiding Americans around her, Davis has forfeited her rights as an elected official. It’s time for Rowan County to find a new county clerk.