Published December 20, 2015
A defiant Kentucky county clerk, who has been ordered to face a federal judge on Thursday in a hearing about her refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, says she won't resign.
“Some people have said I should resign, but I have done my job well,” Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis said in a statement posted to the website of the lawfirm that represents her, Liberty Counsel.
“I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage,” Davis said in the statement. “To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision. For me it is a decision of obedience.”
"It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision"
Davis' office has steadfastly denied marriage licenses since the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage this summer, and that practice continued Tuesday morning when at least two same-sex couples were denied as Davis invoked "God's authority." Rowan County Attorney Cecil Watkins says the federal court alerted him later Tuesday morning that a hearing was scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday in Ashland. Watkins says clerk Kim Davis is summonsed to attend, along with all the deputy clerks who work in her office.
After Davis initially stopped issuing marriage licenses, two gay couples and two straight couples sued her. A federal judge ordered her to issue the licenses, an appeals court upheld that decision and the Supreme Court on Monday declined to intervene in the case, seemingly leaving Davis with no legal ground to stand on.
But Davis has refused to issue the licenses, saying her deeply held Christian beliefs don't let her endorse gay marriages.
As an elected official, Davis can't be fired. Any impeachment of her would have to wait until the legislature's regular session next year or could come during a costly special session.
“I have received death threats from people who do not know me,” Davis said in the statement. “I harbor nothing against them. I was elected by the people to serve as the County Clerk. I intend to continue to serve the people of Rowan County, but I cannot violate my conscience.”
On Tuesday, Davis asked David Moore and David Ermold, a couple who has been rejected four times by her office, to leave. They refused, surrounded by reporters and cameras.
"We're not leaving until we have a license," Ermold said.
"Then you're going to have a long day," Davis told him.
From the back of the room, Davis' supporters said: "Praise the Lord! ... Stand your ground."
Other activists shouted that Davis is a bigot and told her: "Do your job."
On Tuesday morning, shortly after Davis' remarks, the sheriff's office cleared the county office of those gathered to support both sides of the issue.
The two groups lined up on either side of the courthouse entrance to chant at each other. Davis' supporters told her to "stand firm," while gay-rights activists shouted "do your job."
The rejected couples' supporters called the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit on their behalf. They asked that their attorneys file to have Davis held in contempt.
Randy Smith, leading the group supporting Davis, said he knows following their instruction to "stand firm" might mean Davis goes to jail.
"But at the end of the day, we have to stand before God, which has higher authority than the Supreme Court," he said.
Ermold hugged Moore, his partner of 17 years, and they cried and swayed as they left the clerk's office. Davis' supporters marched by, chanting.
"I feel sad, I feel devastated," Ermold said. "I feel like I've been humiliated on such a national level, I can't even comprehend it."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.