Today is a sad day for the American judicial system and Kentucky state government. Today, a county clerk was incarcerated by a judge for refusing to place her name on the marriage licenses of same sex couples.
Kim Davis has stated that her religious convictions prevent her from giving her official signature of approval for gay marriage. She had requested that Gov. Steve Beshear accommodate her conscience by excusing her from that duty. Beshear refused and told her to do her job or resign. This is the same governor who allowed Kentucky’s attorney general, Jack Conway, to refuse to defend Kentucky’s constitutional definition of marriage. Beshear spent the commonwealth’s money on private counsel to protect Conway’s religious convictions on gay marriage but refuses to allow other elected officials to use the county’s ink pens in order to protect Davis’ religious convictions. Conway, by the way, is now a gubernatorial candidate in the state.
In light of Beshear’s unwillingness to accommodate Davis’ faith, U.S. District Judge David Bunning has chosen not to fine Davis or request that Gov. Beshear call on the state legislature to impeach her or that Rowan County voters organize a recall referendum on her election. Rather, Bunning has chosen to throw Davis into jail.
Should Jack Conway have been jailed? Of course not. He should have been ordered to do his duty as an elected official and, if he refused, a due process should have unfolded to allow citizens of the commonwealth to decide if should continue to hold office. Should Davis be jailed? Of course not.
Yet, in the midst of what is quickly becoming of the most heated cultural debates since slavery, Judge Bunning has created a martyr and, at the same time, wrought a great injustice upon a public servant and a wife and mother of two. With countless alternatives to be explored and exhausted, Bunning has used his gavel to swat the proverbial gnat with a sledge hammer.
Where does this end? I honestly don’t know. If Davis was my wife and the mother of my children, I would ask that she respond to this great injustice by resigning her position and coming home to her family. She has defended her beliefs and, from what I have observed, taken her stand with gracious and God-honoring speech. She has made her case. She has done all that she can do.
As for the failure of Gov. Beshear to protect her freedom of conscience, unfortunately, his name won’t be on the ballot in November. But, once again, the people of Kentucky are learning the hard lesson that elections really do matter. In fact, freedom hangs in the balance.